Ms Eunice Araba Turkson, a Special Educator in the United States, has called on school authorities and educators in Ghana to desist from discriminating against children with disability.
“Here in the United States, by law, every child has the right to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and so we do not turn any child away from school, we also make a conscious plan for the children with disabilities to mingle with the mainstream children,” she said.
Ms Turkson made the call when the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme on cerebral palsy, held an online discussion on a story of a teenage mother who has been convinced by her pastor to kill her disabled child.
“Inclusion is a big deal here in the United States. Even if a child with special educational needs cannot study with the regular class, we develop a Unique Curriculum for them. Our typical daily schedule is – Response to Intervention – where some students also receive extra help on reading and maths,” she said.
“We also teach the children what is called Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to enable them to value and appreciate children who are different from themselves.”
Ms Turkson, also the Chief Executive Officer of Afri-Educational Plus, a non-governmental education-oriented organisation, is partnering with the Special Mothers Project to educate parents and teachers on the possibilities of implementing Ghana’s Inclusive Education Policy.
She said there was the need to involve parents of children with disability in the schools’ plans and programmes towards their children.
“Here in the United States, the parents are very powerful people and the first advocates when it comes to educating a child with special needs. Professional licenses could be revoked if a parent reported a suspected case of discrimination against a child and allegations are found to be true,” she said.
“Unless under special circumstances, there is no way we can meet as team or a school on a child without the presence of the parents or guardian.”
Ms Turkson said in the United States the Federal Government gave a good attention to children with special needs, many of whom had grown to be valuable members of the society and holding top positions.
She admonishes her fellow educators in Ghana to show compassion, sympathy and love to all children as those were the most important values one needed in life.