Children with disabilities in Northern Ghana are often neglected. The community isn’t sure how to best support them, meaning many are ignored, left out of school and mistreated.
In 2015 Ghana introduced its inclusive education policy, aimed at getting all children, no matter their circumstances, enrolled in to school. VSO have been supporting this work in Northern Ghana, working directly with the Ghana Education Service. Last year in Ghana, VSO reached over 17,000 children. Including 1,200 children with disabilities.
Joachim Faara, the Director of Ghana Education Service in Talensi District explains how children with disabilities are being brought to the classroom:
Education is a right
Education is a right. Education empowers a child. Education is the right way. Education gives the children knowledge. It gives a child competencies and skills. It sharpens the attitude of the child and it’s training for them to be functional in society.
Opening up classrooms to children with disabilities
We aim to bring all children with disabilities into the mainstream school system. When we put children with disabilities into school, they get those competencies. We are driving them towards effective citizenship and towards getting a job and career.
It involves identifying those children along with their peers, and bringing them into the same classroom. We need to show their parents that they have a right to education.
But we need the right resources. Some of the schools don’t even have furniture. Some children are still crawling [because of their disability] so we need to provide wheelchairs.
It also means training teachers. Teachers in Ghana don’t always appreciate that children with disabilities have a place in their classroom. They need to be sensitized on the importance of bringing those children into school.
Working with volunteers
We have worked with VSO over the last ten years, helping to identify those [vulnerable] children. They’ve supported us with materials and with human resources. VSO education volunteers are experts in special needs. They have knowledge and can build up our capacity. We are rolling out the models they have taught us.
VSO has also been helping us with involving the parents, particularly in special needs parent teacher groups. Parents should be at the core of the governing system. By developing those groups at the grassroots to district we can fight some of the challenges.
We will not succeed until every child with disabilities in school
We know that this is the UK taxpayers’ money helping us. We know that sacrifices have been made. We know individuals [volunteers] have sacrificed their comfort to stay with us. We are empowered by them and now other districts are copying us in our models. They think we are lucky to have worked with VSO.
We work very, very hard to make sure the funding VSO gives - we get the best out of it. People are becoming more positive. Now not everyone thinks that those children can’t go to school or excel or have potential.
We will not succeed until every disabled child in every community is in school.
Could you use your skills to help children have access to an eduction? Find out more about becomming an education volunteer