Ms Christiana Nkrumah, Gender Representative, Ghana Disability Forum, has urged government to make the country’s educational system inclusive with equal learning opportunities for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs)

She said inclusive education meant that all children must be in the same classrooms in the same schools, and given equal learning opportunities with PWDs who have traditionally been excluded from the mainstream educational system.

Ms Nkrumah, speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of a dialogue on the participation and inclusion of youth with disability in decision making and governance, said inclusive systems valued the unique contributions students brought to the classroom as it allowed them to develop together for their collective advantage.

The Dialogue, organised by the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) in collaboration with Ghana Federation of Disability and Youth Networks, with support from Oxfam, sought to bring together the youth including Youth with Disability to reflect on the realities confronting them.

Sharing her experiences, she said historically, children with disabilities had been excluded from the general education system and placed in “special schools” and that reflected the significant impact such situations had had on their growth.

Such a situation, she added, was not promoting inclusiveness as PWDs would eventually transition to higher learning where such special care would not be offered to them, hence increasing their challenges even further.

“PWDs are mostly separated from the entire community or society, but once come out from school, you will be expected to work with the general public because there are no specific jobs for disabled persons and no particular sets of persons or groups to work with,” she stressed.

Ms Nkrumah said: “We will end up working with both abled and disabled, so it is only right that the integration is done from the onset to allow society associate more with and appreciate at firsthand the challenges of persons with disabilities,”

She noted that children with disabilities were often overlooked in policymaking, limiting their access to education and their ability to participate in social, economic and political life, and restated her outfit’s appeal for duty bearers to make provision for inclusive instead of special education for PWDs.

According to her, there was a need for some level of integration with a common educational system for all persons to further create some considerable awareness from the onset to conscientise society and plan accordingly for them.

Mr Ernest Amoako, Director of Education and Training, National Youth Authority, said all stages of the development process were inclusive and accessible to persons with disability, requiring that all persons be afforded equal access to education, health care, employment, social protection among others.

He said providing equal opportunities for all, including PWDs was non-negotiable, and therefore called on PWDs not to be limited in their undertakings but take advantage of Information, Communication and Technology for their development.

Ms Mina Efedi Okoroafor, Official, Ghana Federation of Disability, said in advancing inclusive development, there was the need to collectively change perceptions and attitudes towards persons with disabilities as certain decisions taken advertently or inadvertently mostly affected them.

Source: Ghana News Agency(GNA)