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14.06.2004 Regional News

Don't lock up disabled children in rooms - Parents told

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Tamale, June 14, GNA - Mr Felix Dery, Deputy Country Director of Action on Disability for Development, (ADD), a British NGO, has said universal primary education would be unattainable without the inclusion of children with disabilities.

He said 98 per cent of children with disabilities received no formal education and this stemmed from the fear of parents that such children would not be able to cope up if they were sent to school.

Mr Dery was speaking to the GNA in an interview in Tamale about attitude of some parents in Northern Ghana towards their physically challenged children with regard to education.

He said those children who were fortunate to have education often received inferior treatment, had lower expectations of themselves than their able counterparts and they were denied the needed support to participate equally.

Such parents therefore preferred to lock up their disabled children in their rooms instead of sending them to school to enable them to unearth their talents.

Mr Dery said some parents also entertained the fear that disclosure of a disabled child would stigmatise their families and affect the marriage prospects of siblings, while others considered that, investment in a disabled child was not worthwhile.

He said the lack of access to education should not be seen only as a question of overcoming cultural barriers but the attitude of teachers, physical accessibility of schools and transport, as well as access to orthopaedic materials and equipment were also issues needed to be addressed.

He said for education to be effective and inclusive, there was the need to develop special education programmes in which children with disabilities would get more and appropriate attention. Mr Dery called on people in the three Northern Regions not to see children with disabilities as outcasts but to support them to integrate into the communities.

He explained that the denial of the physically challenged children of education is against their human rights and this should never be overlooked.