Children With Disability Must Be Included In Education – Deputy Gender Minister
Three years after the launch of the Inclusive Education Policy, there are still challenges with the education of children with disability in Ghana.
In 2014, the Ghana Statistical Service reported that 3% of the country's population, based on the 2010 Ghana Population and Housing Census, had one form of disability or the other.
It also reported that more Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) lived in rural areas than in urban areas.
Some available figures also indicate that four out of every ten PWDs aged 3 and older, have no formal education. And whiles 58.3% of PWDs in the rural areas have no formal education are females, 40.7% are males.
Based on these figures, the Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Gifty Twum-Ampofo, indicated the government's resolve to ensure that every child in Ghana gains access to education, irrespective of their circumstances.
“In providing education for our children, our schools should be child-friendly and disability-friendly to ensure that learning environments are welcoming, gender-sensitive, healthy, safe and protective. Children should go to school in an environment which does not affect their health and well-being negatively,” she said.
“As a country, we want to emphasize the need for a child-friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children. This is because, in the 2012 Millennium Development Goals report, it was indicated that Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest number of out-of-school children, many of whom are with some degree of disability. This, therefore, calls for accelerated action in ensuring that the Ghanaian child is given the opportunity to access quality and friendly education,” she added.
Gifty Twum-Ampofo further bemoaned the lumping of children with disabilities in 'special' educational institutions.
“As a country, the rights of children with disabilities to access quality education are recognised; however, the situation on the ground shows that children with disabilities remain the most excluded from accessing education and its benefits. … It is rather unfortunate that in most countries, including Ghana, education for children with disabilities has created separate schools called 'Special Schools'.”
“These schools provide education for a smaller number of children and the larger percentages are excluded and they remain in their houses. This does not help the children to integrate fully into society and does not equip them with the required knowledge and skills for the future. Thus, inclusive education is needed in addressing the plight of children with disabilities which includes addressing the different needs that children have as a result of an impairment,” she lamented.
The Deputy Minister was speaking at a national dialogue organised in commemoration of the 2018 National Children's Day on the theme: 'Leave No Child Behind For Ghana's Development; The Rights of Children With Disabilities'.
The dialogue, put together by The Department of Children, under the auspices of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, tackled the implications of the Inclusive Education Policy for children with disability. It brought together, representatives from various social groups and NGOs such as the Ghana Blind Union, Shared Care Ghana, and Inclusion Ghana.