Recap: “Dyslexia became a problem when education was limited to reading and writing only”.
The second segment was moderated by Ms. Precious Kyei-Bonsu, an Education and Childcare Expert and the Founder of the WIT Schools in Accra. Her panelists were educators and representatives of the GES.
Ms. Bonsu started off with 2 quotes, “every child is a genius waiting to be discovered”, “we are all born geniuses, but the school system dumbs us down.”.
Mrs. Ida Allotey-Brown, a Special Educator, said that when it comes to special education, “no one size fits all; try different things”. She shared her experience about using the multisensory approach when engaging a child with (a) learning difficult-y/-ies. She encouraged parents and educators to appreciate and celebrate every little progress wards make. She said, “even if it took a month for them to read one sentence in a whole book, celebrate them; it’s progress.” Mrs. Allotey-Brown encouraged teachers saying, “whatever thing you do with a child, do it out of love and not out of responsibility.”
Dr. Odaymat, the Director of ARIS, said her school values the fact that, “there is greatness in everyone.” She said that the school system needs to be changed to make inclusion what it really needs to be. At ARIS, the term Personalised Learning is used because learning is tailored to meet the needs of the specific learner. For instance, when you give a student with dyslexia a paper to read or copy, you have not allowed that student to access learning. She said that students need to be given diverse opportunities to express learning; she also suggested to the GES to consider merging Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) with the regular school subjects so that other children will also have hands-on learning. Dr. Odaymat concluded by saying that, “we are preparing children for the next 20 years and so we cannot use methods from yesterday”; we need to keep changing and working the system to prepare these children for tomorrow.
Prof. Samuel Hayford, a lecturer of the University of Education, Winneba, and a policy maker, said that the inclusive education policy is being reviewed and it covers all intellectual and learning disabilities/difficulties. He said, “don’t shift the blame, we’re all part of the problem.” He encouraged that all who have concerns and suggestions to make the policy better should take the bold step and make their voices heard for a better inclusive education policy for Ghana.
Mr. Alex Amankwah, Officer in Charge of Learning Disabilities, Special Education Division (SPED), GES, said that the GES has a partnership with UNICEF and are training teachers in the districts to provide general support due to the teacher:student ratio. He said the Universal Design Learning (UDL) is enshrined in the new curriculum and it supports Social Emotional Learning (SEL). The new curriculum is designed in such a way that students’ strengths are used to boost their self-confidence/image as well as character building in modern education. He said since 2019, there have been the options of oral exams and transcribers for students with learning difficulties to take their BECE and WASSCE and this is handled by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). He also made us aware that there is a sign-language dictionary available to the general public.
Before we rounded up the very well-attended forum, some stakeholders suggested that:
- Assessment should be made accessible and affordable for families in Ghana so that they can seek early intervention and mediation for children with learning difficulties; regardless of geographic location.
- The GES should make use of various social media to bring to the fore all the work they do and to also inform and educate citizens.
- Adult Education must be ‘brought back’.
- Education and awareness of the various learning difficulties should not only be done for parents and teachers but for all.
- The GES should create Learning Resource Centres in various schools.
- We should look carefully at the language we use when describing dyslexics or people with difficulties and disabilities.
- It’s no longer STEM, the term is now Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS and Mathematics (STEAM); let’s not leave the Arts out.
- Parents should not be left out of the Inclusive/Inclusion System.
- Let’s consider adopting a Communicative Learning Approach to adapt to students’ learning needs. No child must be left behind.
- Let’s place priority on the Early Childhood stage because these difficulties are obvious during those years.
“Assessment is the beginning and the end to service provision”.