The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated some devices and basic screening materials to support inclusive education in Ghana.

The $100,000 equipment was donated to enhance the various regional Assessment Centers across the country to help them function effectively.

The items include hearing aids, clutches, complete spectacles, wheelchairs, Snellen charts, walking sticks, table tennis boards, complete set of drums and basic screening materials.

Speaking at a symbolic handover ceremony at the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind, the country representative of UNICEF, Susan Namondo Ngongi, said equipping the regional assessment centers would decongest the traffic on the national assessment center.

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According to her, the national assessment is too far and inaccessible to many Ghanaians who have mild impairments.

This she said would help identify problems of the children in order to spare them the challenges they face.

She observed that, Ghana has made enough progress in increasing enrollment in the kindergarten and basic school level, but children with disability are disadvantaged in getting quality education.

“In the last decade, Ghana has made tremendous progress in getting more children into school especially at the kindergarten and basic education level with net enrollment reaching 91% at the primary level, yet children with disability still remained the most disadvantaged when it comes to getting good education. Children with disability are often denied education because the school buildings are not adaptable for them or the teacher doesn’t know how to make sure that they are included. So we wish to have teachers who are trained to identify the problems of the children” she emphasized.

For his part, the Mission Director of USAID, Andrew Karas, commended the ministry of education for implementing the Inclusive Education policy.

He said the USAID is committed to supporting the ministry to improve quality education for learners with special needs.

He encouraged learners with special needs to make good use of the available materials and learn hard to achieve their goals.

Between 2011 and 2012, the Ghana Education Service with support from UNICEF intensified the implementation process of Inclusive Education (IE) through three approaches namely; screening of school children, sensitization of stakeholders and training of teachers and managers.

This occurred in some 529 schools in 34 districts throughout the country. Currently, about 5,000 persons from 20 districts of seven regions in Ghana have been sensitized on Inclusive Education.

As part of the education strategic plan 2010-2020, over 3,500 teachers, education administrators and managers, have been trained for the implementation of  Inclusive Education plan, and about 800,000 pupils from primary one to three have been screened across the country.

The Director of Special Education at the Ghana Education Service, Anthony Boateng, on behalf of GES and the government of Ghana, expressed his profound gratitude to UNICEF and USAID for their continued support.

He called on all and sundry to place priority on Inclusive Education in order to help train children with disability for a better future.

“To parents, please bring the children with special needs to the education system. To teachers, administrators and managers, please accept them and let us work together to give them the education they require so that they play effective roles as full members of the society and develop their full potential which will enable them function as effective citizens of the country called Ghana” he appealed.

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The Central Regional Minister, Kwamina Duncan, who graced the occasion, promised to do his best to assist the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind as he happens to be a person with a disability who has risen to become the regional minister.

“Myself, I have a physical challenge, and so anything that has to do with people with challenges, it gets to my very core. Now that I represent the President in the region, I would have my eye here. I would also be that advocate that would continue in higher circles to ensure that the laws which regulate employment and public places must make access for persons with disability at any given opportunity, so we can be seen as a society that cares for its own.” he lamented.

By: Akwasi Koranteng/citifmonline.com/Ghana