Around the world, children with disabilities are faced with many challenges that can hinder their success and wellbeing. In Ghana, children with mild to moderate disabilities are often denied access to education simply because of basic impairments. This creates a sense of isolation and lack of motivation among these children, and diminishes their quality of life.
Fortunately in recent years several programs led by a variety of humanitarian organizations have begun improving education access for children with disabilities in Ghana.
One of such campaigns is the ‘Ring the Bell’ campaign. Ring the Bell is a campaign under the Lilianne Foundation and Pronet partnership which seeks to draw the attention of government and the general public to the plight of children with disabilities who are not able to access education.
The inclusive education policy enjoins all stakeholders to ensure that all children with disabilities are able to attend and participate in mainstream school. But this remains a dream since many schools are not disability friendly and lack the skills required to meet the needs of children with disability.
The Lilianne Foundation in partnership with Pronet has been leading the Ring the Bell campaign for over two years in the Upper West Region. The 2018 Ring the bell campaign activities was carried out in the Jirapa Municipality on Wednesday (March 21, 2018) under the theme ‘’All Children Welcome in School Including Children with Disability’’. Pupils drawn from basic schools in the municipality took a route match around the principal streets of Jirapa, carrying placards with educative messages, drumming and singing songs that draw the public attention to the need for inclusive education in the districts and Ghana at large.
Gandaabie Mathias is the Inclusive Coordinator of the Jirapa Municipal Education. He said education delivery in Ghana is a basic right for all children of school going age. ‘’Therefore the inclusive education policy is based on the same value system which holds that all persons who attend an educational institution are entitled ti equitable access to quality teaching and learning and which transcends the idea of physical location, but incorporate the basic values that promote participation, friendship and good interaction’’ he added.
He continued that ‘’Based on these and others as guiding principles in the Ghana Education Service, we have been given public education to people of the municipality in the form of awareness creation on disability issues through PTA meetings, carrying out basic screening in schools to detect pupils with hearing problems, visual, speech problems and making referrals to them to specialist for further action’’. All these he said go a long way to enhance pupils who are facing such problems to be attended to and enhance their learning outcomes.
The SWEB Project Officer of Pronet North, Patricia T Amoateng is not happy with how children with disability are treated in schools and public places. Ghana she said has good laws protecting children with disability but unfortunately these laws are not active. ‘’We have laws that are covering them but is not active…so government is such that if you don’t keep reminding him of something is just like the rules are there, the laws are protecting them but it is not working. So this is a day that is set aside that children with disability be remembered’’.
The Lilianne Foundation came out with 10 action point’s manifesto which will be signed in as many as people who agreed to the manifesto. The manifesto will later be presented before parliament for consideration and action.