Ghana government to expand education for students with special needs

 

In May 2016 the Ministry of Education (MoE) launched its new inclusive education (IE) policy, laying out a strategy for improving the education of all children, with a focus on improving access and quality for disadvantaged children and those with special needs.

Foundations

The plan builds on years of policymaking by successive Ghanaian governments dating back to before independence. It provides practical steps towards a strategic goal set out in the government’s Education Strategic Plan 2010-20, namely providing education for all those with “physical and mental impairments, orphans, and those who are slow or fast learners”. It put an emphasis on educating such pupils within the mainstream system wherever possible, and where not, in special units and schools.

The IE policy also comes under the broader context of educational reform with the intention of making the system more responsive to students’ needs and enhancing its outcomes, with the end-goal of creating a more equitable society in which all Ghanaians have the chance to flourish. The policy is also influenced by the principles established by the 1994 UNESCO Salamanca statement, which set down guidelines and made commitments to inclusive education for all.

Stakeholders

The policy will be overseen by the MoE through the Ghana Education Service in particular, in coordination with other ministries and government agencies. Other international and civil society stakeholders include UNICEF, the Ghana branch of Inclusion International – an organisation for people with intellectual disabilities – the Ghana Blind Union, and World Education, a US-based charity.

The policy is an example of the Ghanaian public sector working closely across different ministries, and with a range of local and international organisations, with the aim of delivering better services.

Objectives

The new policy has four main, linked objectives. The first is to adapt the education system to ensure the inclusion of all learners, particularly those with special educational needs. Second, it aims to promote universal standards for learning. The third is to create a learner-friendly school environment to ensure the quality of education is enhanced for all. The fourth goal is to develop teachers and staff to deliver IE across the country, and to ensure that the policy is implemented sustainably.

The programme is intended to be long term, and will be reviewed every five years to respond to the changing situation in Ghana and the country’s needs, as well as to international trends and innovations.

In addition to those with physical disabilities and learning difficulties, groups that the IE programme aims to ensure have access to formal schooling include homeless children, those with HIV/AIDS, children who have been exploited for financial purposes, and the children of nomads, fishermen and shepherds. Moreover, the policy will also address the special needs of particularly gifted children.

To these ends, the policy document outlines a range of concrete steps to deliver inclusive education. These include establishing assessment centres in all districts and regions, adding improvements to physical infrastructure and future design to make schools more suitable for those with special educational needs, improving linkages with other sectors – such as health care, transport and social care – and mobilising a range of funding sources to deliver policy goals. Curriculum reform, teacher training, improving teaching materials, and establishing a monitoring and evaluation framework will also be central.

Private & Ngo Role

The policy foresees an important role for the private sector, as well as for NGOs, philanthropists and development partners. The IE document clearly outlines the role that private companies, development partners and individuals can play in concrete implementation, in areas including funding, construction, development of human resource

 

s, and supplying and managing schools.

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The Report: Ghana 2017

Health & Education chapter from The Report: Ghana 2017

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