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30.09.2005 General News

Government to improve the lot of disabled teachers

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Accra, Sept. 30, GNA - Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State in-charge of Tertiary Education on Friday said government and the Ministry of Education would work hard to improve the conditions of disabled teachers.

She said: "We have to do things systematically, I have started going round the special schools and I am ready to fight your course." Ms Ohene was speaking at a forum organised by Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) for disabled teachers as part of activities to mark the GNAT Week.

She commended the GNAT for holding the forum, which would help to solicit views on how to improve the lot of persons with disabilities in general, adding that disabled people were best able to articulate their needs.

Ms Ohene said it was government's responsibility not to showcase people begging at traffic lights, "and we are working out a mechanism that would help people utilise their potentials". Mr Nicholaus Halm, National Secretary of the Blind Teachers Association said there were about 3500 teachers with disability and urged government to deliver on her promised to pass the disability bill. Mr Mawutor Avoke, of the Department of Special Education, University of Education, Winneba, said it was the responsibility of society to remove barriers placed on the paths of persons with disability because they were capable of rising to the highest academic ladder.

He said there was the need for a broad and balanced curriculum that would emphasise the needs of disabled teachers. Mr Joseph Serebour, a tutor of the Wesley Grammar School and President of Ghana Blind Teachers Association said many disabled teachers had been reduced to producing only craftwork, adding, headmasters had doubts about how blind people could be effective in the classroom.

He said in view of this, disabled teachers were denied so many opportunities including their rights to employment and called for the promotion of disabled teachers wherever they found themselves. Mr Serebour said the lack of textbooks in Braille was a great challenge to blind teachers and appealed to GNAT to incorporate disability issues into its policy guidelines.

Mrs Irene Duncan-Adanusa, GNAT General Secretary said the forum negotiating the salary increases for GNAT and the other associations had come to an agreement with government and by October 2005 members would begin to receive their salary increases.

Participants' complained that some of their headmasters only saw them as misfits and incompetent and ended up marginalizing them. They said the institutions that were responsible for the welfare of the disabled were themselves disabled and could not function so government should strengthen them to enable the institutions address the problems once and for all.

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