A Deputy Minister for Education, Mr John Ntim Fordjour, says the government is prepared to harness the exceptional talents of children with disabilities under the Gifted and Talented Educational Policy Programme to be rolled out next academic year.
Mr Ntim Fordjour was speaking at an event to climax the golden jubilee celebrations of the Sekondi School For The Deaf (SEKDEAF) at Nchaban in the Shama District of the Western Region.
The theme for the anniversary was “Fifty Years Of Quality Education For Person’s With Hearing Impairment At Sekondi School For The Deaf; The Successes, Challenges and Prospects.”
The Deputy Minister said under the policy, the Ministry of Education would identify, embrace and mainstream the persons with disabilities into society.
“Under the programme, the government will locate the gifted and talented children with disability in hard-to-reach areas of the country to assist them to unearth their full potentials.”
Mr Fordjour said, “no child with a disability must be left out because such children are dear to the heart of President Nana Akufo-Addo and the Minister for Education and the government is ready to support them.”
Mr Fordjour disclosed that the Ministry of Education, through its inclusive education policy, would admit children with disabilities from special schools into the Senior High Schools(SHS) on completion of the Junior High Schools (JHS).
The move, he said, was to eliminate stigmatization and marginalization of persons with disabilities in society.
“Children from the special schools write the same Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) with their counterparts in the regular schools but excel very well despite their hearing and speech impairment,” the Deputy Minister said.
He commended teachers in the school for their efforts in using Sign Language to teach children with special needs.
The Deputy Minister said Ghana had developed a sign language dictionary to deepen knowledge in instructional delivery through sign language.
He said the government had also rolled out the “Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes” (GALA) to ensure equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities.
He said the Ministry of Education and the University of Education, Winneba(UEW) had rolled out a programme at the Early Childhood Development Department to train teachers to handle children with auditory problems.
He said the Ministry would next academic year roll out the Language, Communication and Psycho-Socio well-being programme on a pilot basis, starting from the Western Region and the Eastern Region to identify children with auditory problems.
He advised parents to embrace their children and avoid stigmatization, neglect and marginalization.
The Dean of Educational Studies at the University of Education, Winneba, Prof. Samuel K.Hayford, who was the Guest Speaker, admitted that quality education required healthy learners, well-nourished, ready to participate in learning, supported in learning by their families and communities.
He noted that it was, however, regrettable that some young children with hearing impairments, who were sent to the school for enrolment, appeared malnourished, poorly clothed, timid, unstipulated and unsupported by parents and guardians.
Prof. Hayford observed that the majority of the children at the school lacked basic grooming or life skills such as brushing of teeth, combing of hair, bathing and washing clothes who have to be trained by house-mothers to develop the basic skills.
He stated that “some parents also refused to pick their children when the school vacates thereby leaving the children as a burden on the head, teachers and house-mothers who are compelled to forsake their vacation and stay on to take care of them.”
He noted that the school was bedevilled with certain teething challenges such as computer laboratory and stressed the need for projectors in the classrooms to enhance visual literacy.
The Director of Special Education at the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mrs Bernice Aduo Addae, said when children with disabilities were well moulded and nurtured, they would become useful and contribute to the socio-economic development of the Nation.
She lauded the sector Minister and school authorities for the attention paid to special education in the country.
The Headmistress of SEKDEAF, Madam Favour Aflakpui mentioned some achievements of the school as the acquisition of a matrix car, an infirmary, a new Girls Dormitory, renovation of a classroom block, revamping of the piggery farm, polytank for water storage, new teachers block and renovation of old dormitory block.
She said the school had started writing NVTI examinations, adding that the 2020 BECE results improved.
Madam Aflakpui was happy that the school took the first position in the Western North Regions Plastics and Recycling festival organized by the centre for creativity and innovation.
Aside from other projects, the Headmistress said she was fighting for an administration block, a thousand capacity Assembly Hall for the school and secondary technical for the deaf on the same campus.
The school, which started with 11 students at Essikado, now has a population of 344.