I had an insightful conversation with a family that has raised a 28 year old boy with cerebral palsy. As a way of giving back to society the family had decided to be fully committed to advocacy issues on cerebral palsy
They had come to see me to discuss possible advocacy issues that they could raise, as they shared their journey of their son with me, the sister of this young man said something that I could not stop pondering over.
Alberta, a senior sister to Nii, the young man living with cerebral palsy said: “I think inclusiveness is the best therapy we can give to children with cerebral palsy.”
Alberta explained : “We lived in a house with our uncles, aunties and cousins, there were a lot of children around, my brother Nii played with us, he was challenged to do things for himself, we had one cousin who was always running, he was also a boy, Nii wanted to play with him, so he forced himself to run, when we were young, you will always see him (Nii) with bruises around the mouth, he fell many times but I guess that is what challenged him to do things for himself.”
Ghana is currently talking inclusive education a system of education where all students regardless of their needs are welcomed by their neighbourhood schools in age appropriate regular classes and supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspect of the life of the school.
Inclusive education is about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, programmes and activities so that all students learn and participate together.
Some Experts in education have listed a lot of benefits of inclusive education, saying that inclusive education has the ability to develop the individual strengths and gifts, involve parents in the education of their children, foster a school culture of respect and belonging and provides an opportunity to learn about and accept individual differences, lessening the impact of harassment and bullying.
Inclusive education has the potential to positively affect both the school and the community to appreciate diversity and inclusion on a broad level.
In Ghana, many teachers are still wondering how possible it is to fully implement inclusive education, there are some who thinks that children with special needs especially those with disabilities should be separated since they have a tendency of slowing the academic work and pulling back the regular ones.
However, there are many parents of children with cerebral palsy calling for inclusive education, one of the parents said, “I do not expect my child with cerebral palsy to score 100 per cent, I just want a social life for my child, I know my child is intelligent and will excel at his own pace.”
Another parent of a child with cerebral palsy who expressed believe in inclusive education said in an interview that “My child with cerebral palsy lives together in the house with her other siblings, they play with her, they heckle her and they treat her as their sibling, I see that my daughter has really improved in terms of her responses because of her siblings.
She said, children with cerebral palsy especially need to be in mainstream school, they have movement issues but most of the time, their brains are intact, they can learn.
Another parent of a child with cerebral palsy said, inclusive education is possible, it is the willingness of the school and staff to accept children with cerebral palsy that is left.