Ms Eunice Araba Turkson, an astute Special Educator in the United States has called on Ghanaian school authorities and educators to desist from discriminating against children with disabilities
She said: “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.
Ms Turkson made the call when the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme on cerebral palsy issues and issues affecting families raising children with disabilities held an online discussion on a story of a teenage mother who has been convinced by her pastor to kill her disabled child.
She said, “Inclusion is a big deal here in the United States” even if the 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 (RTI) where some students also receive extra help on reading and math.
“We also teach the children what is called Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to enable them value and appreciate children who are different from themselves.”
Ms Turkson who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Afri-Educational Plus, a non-governmental education oriented organization 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 disabilities 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 their 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,” she said, adding, that in the United States, the federal government gives a good attention to children with special needs
There are many instances of children with disabilities growing to be valuable members of the society and even hold top ranking offices. Ms Turkson said, admonishing her fellow educators in Ghana to show compassion, sympathy and love to all children.
“Working as an educator has given me compassion, sympathy and love, she said, explaining that those are some of the most important values one needs in life.