Regional News Sun, 22 May 2022

Plan International Ghana calls for increased budgetary allocation for special education

"It's unfortunate that as a nation we seem to have neglected education for special needs. A little research that I made, I discovered that over the years, across governments, only around 0.5% of the education sector budget is allocated to special needs. Why? You know, if indeed these people are special in the sense that we want the world to know, then I would want it to be that the government must demonstrate that commitment by allocating more resources to that sector but unfortunately, less than 1% of the educational sector budget has been allocated to this special area, " this is according to the Programmes Head and Influencing at Plan International Ghana, aAsum-Kwarteng Ahensah.

He said this Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Wa at a ceremony to donate some specialised teaching and learning resources to three special schools in the municipality.

He added: "I also noted through my research that just around 3% of children with disabilities receive any form of education in Ghana. The question is, where are the rests? Maybe issues of culture is keeping them away. So this group of people instead of us as a nation and as community, as families come together to give them more special care and support, we neglect them in terms of our resource allocation and our negative socio-cultyral attitudes which I'll stand here and condemn this kind of posture."

Mr. Asum-Kwarteng while lamenting the neglect of Special Education in the country urged the government to increase funding in the sector to enhance quality education in special schools.

"The government should do well to allocate adequate resources for the sector. The traditional leaders, our families should also do well to provide the necessary support and encouragement to children who maybe in this kind of situation. As a country we would be able to harness everyone's potential bearing in mind that we have signed onto the SDGs. And at the base of the SDGs is that do not leave anyone behind. So we're building a country that clearly is leaving some people behind in terms of our resource allocation and all that. It means we are not just being honest as a society to ourselves. So I want to once again reiterate the need for more resource allocation for the sector and not only that its release particularly from the government should be timely, " Mr. Asum-kwarteng appealed.

In the same vein, Mr. Pious Laary Azumah, a Training and Staff Development Officer at the Upper West Regional Education Directorate speaking on behalf of the Regional Director of Education, also bemoaned the teething challenges Special Schools endure in the country due to the limited budgetary allocations they get from the central government.

Expressing the Ghana Education Service's (GES) excitement over the donation expecially with the quantum involved, Mr. Pious Laary also raised concerns about the deplorable nature of these special schools and called on authorities, non-governmental organisations and individuals to turn their attention to those facilities in order not to leave children with differently abled needs behind.

"It's unfortunate. We need to call on all those who matter to do the needful by ensuring they make available tools that are necessary to special need schools so that we are able to turn around the educational fortunes of these special wards of ours that tomorrow they are able to live much more meaningful lives. This I should say is not negotiable. I'm also hinting that from a distance It's really deplorable if you get to some of our special schools," Mr. Pious Laary charged.

The donation of the specialised tools which went to three special schools namely: Wa Methodist School for the Blind, Wa School for the Deaf as well as St. Don Bosco Special School was as a result of an SOS message sent to Plan International Ghana to save the schools from the shortage of these items that was impacting negatively on teaching and learning.

About 49 assorted items costing about 500,000.00 Ghana Cedis were donated to the schools.

The Wa Methodist School for the Blind received: 50 Foldable white canes, 10 Perkins Bariller, 200 Stylus, 200 Write frames DIN A4, 20 Digital voice recorders, 30 Magnifers, 1 Braille embosser D-V4, 1 Braille embosser D-V5, and 2 Duxbory braille translators software.

For Wa School for the Deaf, 500 A1 exercise books, 500 D2 exercise books, 500 A2 exercise books, 100 My first copy books, 100 My second copy books, 100 my third copy books were donated to the institution. The other items are: 20 packs of sharpeners, 20 chart illustrations, 20 grade flip chart, 20 packs of plastic long rules, 20 map of Ghana, 10 packs of blue pens, 5 packs of red pens, 20 packs of erasers, 20 masking tapes and10 chalk board maths instruments.

The rests are: 50 packs of colour pencils, 50 packs of white chalk, 30 packs of colour chalk, 200 drawing books, 50 slates, 20 white boards (4×8 ft), 10 packs of manila cards, 20 globes (abre glass), 5 electronic seals, 10 8gb pen drives, 3 projectors, and 500 pencils.

The St. Don Bosco Special School also received: 5 customed ludo games, 2 speech generating devices, 5 sewing machines, 30 embrading threads, 5 A4 paper boxes, 20 medium size radios, 1 double-door fridge, 5 gallons of perfume, 5 gallons of booster, 5 gallons of thinkner, 5 electrical irons and 5 white marker board.

The eventwas attended by: representative of the Regional Director of Education, representative of Association of People With Disabilities, Department of Social Welfare, representative of traditional rulers as well as Plan International Ghana staff.

The event was also graced by a young guest speaker, Leticia Nuruyang, a visually impaired Wa Senior High School student who is also the Speaker of the National Children's Parliament.

The alumni of the Wa Methodist School for the Blind is Plan International Ghana Upper West Region's "Golden Star" awardee chosen for her assertiveness and eloquence in advocating for increased attention and support to children with disabilities especially in ensuring quality education for such children.

Leticia Nuruyang who is being sponsored by Plan International Ghana while sharing her struggles as a physically disabled child growing up, encouraged her peers, the differently abled children to take their studies serious in order to secure their future.

She stated: "Growing up, I faced a lot of challenges. I was always thinking too much that who would take care of me to go through my education. And because I was from a (poor) home, I didn't know I was having a future, I thought my future was bleak. And even the little my mum could do to send me to school, people were saying that she was wasting her resources my education would be useless I will not bring anything important to the family. And generally society did not accept me fully because of the condition in which I find myself. And because of that I felt very bad. Anytime I wanted to come to school, I had to follow my mum to farm for us to fetch firewood. I would carry it, jump inside holes, thorns would pierce my legs. She would sell this firewood for me to come to school."

"God being so good, 2019, I came into contact with Plan International Ghana and I was selected to go to Accra and fortunately, I was selected as Speaker of the National Children's Parliament. And as it continued, when I completed JHS, I did not know who would take me up to the Senior High level. So when I wrote BECE, I was thinking that maybe I would not be able to go because the admission fees, the things I'd buy, the provisions I will need for school, who'll purchase them for me? Plan International Ghana on their own, purchased me a laptop and also gave me a scholarship in a form of cash to undertake my Senior High education. Even my friends were looking down upon me but because of the opportunities that I'm having now, they're now respecting me. They didn't know I can get such opportunities. So I will just say it was out of ignorance. So what I have to share with you my friends here is that, though you're visually impaired, but you have something special in you. And when you don't allow it to come out, your future will be bleak. And so I urge all of you to study very hard,, so that one day you go the extra mile to achieve your dreams."

Mr. Prosper Bayuo, Programme Head, Child Rights Promotion and Protection division of the Department of Social Welfare on his part, appealed to the government for the timely payment of the disability Common Fund to ameliorate the plight of the disabled.

Plan International Ghana is a non-governmental organisation with focus on the welfare of children especially girls and the vulnerable.
Source: Ilyaas Al-Hssan