The government will roll out inclusive education across the country from September 2015, a Deputy Director of Education, Special Education Division, Mr Thomas Patrick Otaah, has announced.
Inclusive education is the process of ensuring access to quality education for all children irrespective of the child’s background, religious affiliation and geographical location, among others. It also includes integrating children with special needs with other children in the same classroom.
Mr Otaah, who announced this at an orientation session for district and regional actors and drivers of the implementation of the policy, said the Inclusive Education Policy was being fine-tuned and it was expected that by the end of this year it would have been completed, launched and implemented.
The workshop, organised in Accra by UNICEF, was to solicit ideas to help fine-tune the policy.
Mr Otaah explained that a pilot programme was rolled out in 2003 involving 749 schools from 38 districts across the country to assess the possibility of implementing it nationwide.
Giving a background, he explained that inclusive education was started in 1994 but was not sustained until 2003 when the idea was revived.
On the readiness of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr Otaah explained that GES, with sponsorship from UNICEF, had prepared heads of schools, a teacher each in all public basic schools, education directors and all parliamentarians for the programme.
He said with the help of UNICEF, GES had developed a national inclusive education monitoring tool to ensure that it worked.
Mr Otaah said school structures were being redesigned with special facilities, removing all obstacles to make them accessible to schoolchildren with special needs.
The Head of Department of Special Education of the University of Winneba, Dr Samuel K. Hayford, said the establishment of only two schools for the blind and 12 schools for the deaf in the country could best be seen as the perpetration of injustice.
He wondered how the state could justify such disparity when there were almost a local authority basic school in every community, adding that the challenge now was how to ensure that a child with special needs accessed quality basic education within the community where the child lived.
He stressed: “We cannot continue to deny a section of the population quality education on the basis of special needs.”
Dr Hayford explained that in 1994, all ministries of education in the world met and decided that there was the need to create a school for all and no longer segregate regular from special schools.
He said the village school must be transformed to enable the child with special needs in that village to access quality education there.
Successive governments’ interventions
On efforts to ensure that the challenges of children with special needs were addressed, Dr Hayford was happy to say that successive governments had taken bold decisions towards addressing some of the challenges militating against education for all but said those policies would not achieve the expected results unless there was a change in attitude by those who implemented them.
He cited, for instance, the Capitation Grant, the School Feeding Programme, Free School Uniform and exercise books as some of the laudable policies of successive governments that sought to address the challenges but described the distribution as abysmal.
Source: Graphic Online