Most children living with disability in Ghana are particularly vulnerable to stigma and discrimination, and are often segregated. They may not appear in the national statistics, becoming ‘invisible’ to decision makers, service providers and the public.
While data on the estimated 80% children living with disability across the nation remain scarce, we know they face multiple rights violation, from lack of early detection or diagnosis of their disabilities, to exclusion from education and participation in their communities.
Many children and adolescents with disabilities are isolated from social activities and participation in their communities – a problem exacerbated by transport and buildings that remain inaccessible.
According to Prof. Nidhi Singal, Professor of Disability and Inclusive Education, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK children with disabilities are not engaged in many meaningful learning opportunities.
Speaking at a conference organised by Ghana National Network of Special Educators (GHANNSE) under the theme Impact of covid – 19 on children with special education needs, the professor disclosed that according to research by the Cambridge University over 90 percent of children would fall in learning due to inaccessible distant learning modalities miss out on the important therapies and other essential services which they receive in school.
She opined that government must introduce all-inclusive interventions to help keep children living with disabilities in the community. Television and radio teaching were said to be provided but wasn’t disability oriented, citing that children with hearing impairment who are able to learn through the radio programs. so, there is the need to sit down with other stakeholders and find ways how these children can equally be assisted to benefit from the same.
The Executive Director of GHANNSE, Maame Pokua Boakye, stated that stigmatization has been a major cause of children failing in their learnings. Adding that this sometimes stop parents from seeking help or information, leaving them unaware of their right of any support that is available.
“Families may struggle to balance earning a leaving with caring for a child with disabilities- increasing the risk of industrialisation for a child. Children with disabilities are sometimes denied admission by some public schools which is due to lack of skills in catering for these children so the government must introduce Special Education Officers to train regular teachers to be able to acquire the necessary skills to impart on these children with disabilities”, she stressed
World conference held in Salamaka charges all government that children living with disabilities must be educated in their local schools irrespective of the person’s conditions
Ms Boakye emphasized that rehabilitation centres should factor children with disabilities as the ones available seems to favour only adults with disabilities.
“Government must assist parents in formulating disability oriented policies that will be able to support these children. The inclusive education must be enforced that all children are accepted in their community schools and the needed resources for the assistance to these children are duly provided”, she urged
This in reference to the United Nations conventions on right of persons with disabilities(UNCRPD) which states that persons living with disabilities must be included in every area of the community life.