NewsWest AfricaGhana: Disabled children fail to access free senior high school buildings


Posted on Thursday, 25 February 2016 17:27

Ghana: Disabled children fail to access free senior high school buildings

By Dasmani Laary

File photo©ReutersAn audit report by Ghana's Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD) has revealed government community free senior high schools are not accessible to disabled pupils.

More than 500 basic education certificate examination graduates are likely to fail to access education at the basic school level due to lack of ramps, elevators, and narrow classroom entrances, the federation said.

[It's] a big challenge to People With Disabilities trying to access education from or work in the school

The schools' structures are in contravention of section 6 of Ghana's disability law (Act 715), article 9 of the UN convention on right of persons with disabilities (CRPD), and article 29 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana.

The report says roads leading to all the schools premises are bumpy - rough and un-tarred, which the federation officials anticipate could be very muddy during the rainy season and hinder movements of wheelchair and white cane users.

"PWDs (People with disabilities) will not be able to access the schools during the rainy season, the schools are three-storey blocks in a form of the letter E, with libraries located on third floors, assembly halls on second floors," GFD focal person, Isaac Tuggun told The Africa Report.

"They [buildings] have neither ramps nor elevators to enable students and employees with disability access to the libraries, the assembly hall, and the classrooms on the second and third floors."

The entrances to the classrooms and washrooms are also narrow with high likelihood to impede independent entry and exit by students and employees using wheelchairs and crutches, as well as those with visual impairment.

The report said students and employees or visitors using wheelchairs to get on the verandah required being lifted "besides the narrow entrances to the classrooms, the stairs challenging students with disabilities to enter and exit their classrooms".

"To access the information and communication technology centre, one has to descend a flight of staircases from two approaches. This poses very serious challenges to the visually impaired. PWDs cannot access the computer lab," the report said.

"Also students and workers or visitors with physical disability cannot move from one block to the other because they have to pass in front of the ICT centre, which means descending and climbing a flight of staircases. The washrooms were not accessible.

"Some schools are located on hills and, therefore, very difficult to be reached by students and workers with disability."

The schools are located 6 kilometers away from the town, the report said, citing Otuam in the central region.

"This is a big challenge to PWDs trying to access education from or work in the school," GFD said.

Ghana signed the UNCRPD in 2007 and ratified it and the optional protocol in 2012, making it part of the body laws in the country.

Sources close to the federation said attempt to have a copy of the schools structural designs for input from the ministry of education has failed, and threatened to invoke the powers of a law court to place perpetual injunction on the use of the schools, until it complied legal requirement.

The government promised to construct 200 community senior high schools projected to engage over 900 teachers with enrollment of over 240,000 across the country to improve access to secondary education.

It announced in 2015 that 12.2 million cedi has been released to the education ministry to pay first term fees of students for the 2015/2016 academic year.

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