Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Education has said that negative attitudes from mainstream teachers and pupils towards children with special needs inhibit the full realisation of the inclusive education policy.
He acknowledged that issues of logistics as well as lack of adequately skilled staff to respond to the specific needs of children with special needs were another challenge to implementing the inclusive education policy.
In a speech read on his behalf by Mr Anthony Boateng, Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, he said: ‘We cannot and must not waver from our moral obligation to promote a fully inclusive society. We must challenge ourselves and each other to put in pragmatic measures that truly address the issue in a meaningful and impactful manner.
The Minister of Education said this at Special Education Show put up by the Rex Yankey Otoo Foundation. The show attracted stakeholders providing various services for special needs education.
Dr Opoku-Prempeh said: ‘We must intensify our public education efforts regarding societal attitudes to persons with disabilities. The media has a huge role to play in reaching out through sensitisation programmes on their platform.’
He said it was important to ensure that children with special needs do not miss out on their education simply because of their condition.
‘Government of Ghana has been unrelenting in its bid to provide all children with every opportunity to be educated.
He pointed out that education was core to a productive and skilled workforce fit and relevant for the purposes of a 21st century society.
Dr Opoku-Prempeh urged organisations to consider supporting special education and special needs programmes as part of their corporate social responsibility and said with respect to special education, ‘we encourage organisations to do more in aligning their corporate social responsibility.’
This he said will help with awareness creation and dispel some of the stigma and prejudice in the minds of some people towards special education needs and disability in general.
The Minister said a society’s measure of its humanity is how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.
‘Individuals, the media, civil society, traditional rulers and religious organisations, all have a role to play to ensure that our vulnerable citizens are treated with dignity and respect,’ he added.