Special schools are institutions that take absolute care of students with special needs. These students are very vulnerable and are entrusted in the care of well-trained special professional teachers. The special schools are for the deaf, blind and mentally retarded. There are about 30 of such schools across the country.
It is significant to note that every professional teacher, apart from the special education teachers, is equipped with basic knowledge of special education which will help to detect any special challenges facing pupils and students during interactions in the classroom.
For example if a teacher finds out that a particular child, all the time copies words or numerals wrongly, it calls for some investigations to find out the cause. It could be a problem with the sight. In the same vein, if during dictation and other oral exercises, the pupil is found to be writing nothing or writing everything wrongly, it could be attributed to hearing impairments. That is why it is worrying to learn that special schools in the country lack adequate resources to operate.
As a result, their living conditions are nothing to write about; the dormitories and the classrooms are said to be overcrowded. Another worrying situation is that students, who graduate from the schools, are unable to continue their education to higher institutions of learning due to lack of opportunities and facilities.
It is understood that parents of children in special schools do not pay fees and the authorities rely solely on government subventions which, unfortunately delays sometimes. When one visits the Mampong-Akwapim Senior High Technical School, Ghana’s only secondary school for the deaf, one is faced with the distressed state of the school in terms of resources to run it.
The situation is not different at the Wenchi Methodist Senior High School, the only senior high school for the blind. The recent news about the delay in release of grants and other basic resources needed for the smooth running of the over 30 special schools in Ghana is to say the least troubling and defeats government’s quest to promote social protection. It must be underscored that these schools are attended by Ghanaian students and are therefore entitled to enjoy all the fundamental human rights enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
There is the need to treat students with special needs in a manner that will promote social cohesion and integration of vulnerable groups into socio-economic development. We expect the Special Education Directorate of the Ghana Education Service to sit up and work with the relevant authorities to create congenial atmosphere to address the needs of the special child.
The special need children are disadvantaged by no fault of theirs, so let's work together to make life comfortable for them.
BY: DAN OSMAN MWIN, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, MINISTRY OF EDUCATION.