Students at a day’s forum Dubbed: Using children’s literature to foster inclusivity in Basic School,” have called on people who have the perception that disability is societal threat to eschew such notions and rather help them to succeed.
They indicated that children with disability had hidden talents that could be explored for national development and that they need to be equally handled as such, especially in schools.
The forum was organised by the Basic and Special Education Departments of the University of Education Winneba (UEW), for students in the two departments and other students selected from basic schools in Winneba.
Professor Tierce Ruffin, a Literature Lecturer at the Special Education Department, UEW and Ms. Vivian Acquaye, Lecturer at the Basic Education Department, UEW organised the programmes.
It was aimed at sensitising the participants to use children’s literature as a tool for facilitating inclusive educational environments.
Among topics discussed included; what disability was featured, are characters with disabilities portrayed as complex beings similar to character with disabilities in book?
Professor Tierce Ruffin, who is also an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina, Asheville in the U.S.A and a Fulbring U.S. Senior Scholar for the 2017-2018 academic year at the UEW, said inclusive education was a human right based education.
She said globally, human rights movements had focused on integrating children and youth with disabilities in “regular” schools and classrooms under the auspices of inclusive education.
Inclusive education has been cited as a human right-based education due to its alignment with human right’s tenets, espoused in several treaties including; the Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“All children are entitled to some basic human rights. It is therefore the responsibility of every society to ensure that the younger generations are nurtured and socialised with the requisite skills to consolidate and advance their societies.
Most importantly, children and youth with disabilities are well integrated into the mainstream educational policy and delivery system, with deliberate and concerted effort to enhance their varying disabilities by creating a conducive educational environment and experience for them”.
Ms Acquaye, speaking on Children’s Literature and its importance, said writers of literature had the gift of observing and then expressing in words the experiences of people.
This confirms that literary writing about a group of people portray their ways of life and their imaginations, all of which, to a large extent, form the basis for creativity and discovery, and culminate into real achievements.
She said children’s literature, therefore, become a pool of experiences from which children learn about themselves and others just like them.
“Children’s literature serves multiple purposes of introducing children to their past, present and the future by equipping them with the creativity necessary to imagine to contribute to their total development, as well as those of others,” she said.
Dr. Anthony Mensah, a Senior Lecturer at the Special Education Department of UEW who chaired the event, commended the initiators of the programme, saying children’s literature had great impact on their lifestyle.
He said using literature played a lasting unique role in the minds of the children and expressed optimism that the teachers would use the knowledge they had acquired to impact the lives of children to contribute positively in the society.
The organisers donated Children’s Literature books to the Unipra South Inclusive School in Winneba.