The education system in Ghana is well known for maintaining the ignorant practice of marginalizing children, especially disabled children, from getting an education. Children who are girls, disabled, of an ethnic minority, and/or of the lower class are consistently neglected by the education system. Approximately 100,000 Ghanaian kids aged six to 14 have a disability. More than 30 percent, or 16,000, of those 100,000 kids are not getting an education.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Education, and the Ghana Education Service have created a 45-page document called the Inclusive Education Policy. Launched to combat special education discrimination, its mission statement is straightforward, saying: “inclusive schools must recognize and respond to the diverse needs of their students, accommodating both different styles, rates of learning and ensuring quality education to all through appropriate curricula, organizational arrangements, teaching strategies, resource use and in partnerships with their communities.”
Among other documents, the Inclusive Education Policy is anchored in the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana, the Disability Act and the Education Act and will be reviewed every five years. The Inclusive Education Policy calls on parents, teachers, community leaders, government officials and the wider Ghanaian society to reevaluate deep-rooted, misguided ideas. It aims to change systems, create mechanisms, equip schools and perpetuate the beliefs that all children can learn, have a right to learn and learn differently. The education system in Ghana is working to ensure that children with and without disabilities have an encouraging physical, social, emotional and psychological environment to learn in. Despite the Inclusive Education Policy, kids with disabilities are still at risk of stigma, misunderstanding and discrimination in their local communities.
Under the Ghana Education Service, the Special Education Division started implementing Inclusive Education Policy fundamentals in the Greater Central Accra and Eastern Regions. In 2011, the policy covered 529 schools in 34 Ghanaian districts. In the summer of the following year, UNICEF implemented the policy in 14 more schools. In early 2017, UNICEF and the United States Agency for International Development provided 21 kindergartens across 11 districts with child-sized wheelchairs, crutches, complete spectacles, hearing aids, Snellen charts, tossing rings, tennis balls, basic screening materials, drums and assistive devices for assessment centers and schools.
– Tiffany Santos