According to a report by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the number of children with disabilities in Ghanaian schools remains “very low”.
The report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) said that between 2017 and 2021, children accounted for about 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent of the total number of children from kindergarten to senior secondary school (SHS).
“Children with disabilities have lower enrollment rates compared to children without disabilities at all levels of pre-primary education, especially at SHS and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) levels.
“In general, children with disabilities are underachieving in the education system, and a significant proportion of them are at an advanced age,” the report by the Voluntary National Review (VNR) states.
A document presented at the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in July this year showcased the country’s successes, challenges and lessons learned in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Goal 4 of the 17 SDGs on quality education requires UN member states to ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The VNR report analyzed the coverage of children with disabilities under Ghana’s 2015 Inclusive Education Policy, which “promotes an approach that ensures the attendance of all children in schools ‘regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic and other conditions.’
“This includes children with disabilities; gifted, street and working children; children from remote or nomadic population groups; children from linguistic, ethnic, gender or cultural minorities; and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized areas or groups.’
As for the factors responsible for the low level of education, the report mentions inadequate facilities for the disabled in basic and secondary schools, which negatively affects children with disabilities.
It said most regular basic schools lack handrails, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities for the disabled, while only eight percent are equipped with ramps.
As a result, the report says, there are significant gaps in learning outcomes in reading, writing and mathematics for students with and without disabilities.
“These differences are particularly noticeable for Ghanaian language writing and mathematics. This subsector is also severely underfunded.
“In 2015, only 0.6 percent of total continuing education spending was spent on inclusive and special education,” the report said.
From 2017 to 2021, the number of Technical and Vocational Institutes (TVIs) in the country remained the same despite increasing demand, partly due to funding challenges in providing new TVIs across the country.
However, Ministry of Education/Ghana Education Service TVI enrollment figures have steadily increased from 54,186 in 2017 to 71,126 in 2021, representing an average annual growth of 7.8 percent.
However, between 2017/2018 and 2020/21, the report said the number of TVIs using disability-friendly facilities increased from 5 per cent to 25 per cent in 2020/21, partly due to efforts government to make TVET more accessible to people with disabilities.
Addressing the results of the Express Assessment of the Treatment of People with Disabilities (PWD), the report said that their treatment was mainly influenced by their educational status and economic power, although social acceptance of disabled people has improved significantly over the years due to increased awareness.
“However, the remoteness of specialized schools from the homes and communities of people with disabilities remains a problem, especially for residents of the northern regions,” the report says.