It looks so nice: a friendly, well-dressed teacher announcing to a group of eager-looking individuals that they will be given a 'fair' assignment! It's almost too good to be true: we could wish life were always like that! But how fair is 'fair'?
I think we all can imagine what will happen if all the animals attempt to climb the tree. Some will be at the top in no time at all, while others will not be able to even reach the tree without help. Now, how can we relate this to children with learning difficulties and to education in general? Most educational systems measure learning through collective, uniform class assignments followed by collective, uniform exams. This is considered 'fair', as all students have gone through the same tuition according to curriculum. But how fair is it to give the same assignment to thirty students? Are they all the same? Do they all have the same learning abilities? What does the outcome of the test say? In our picture, the ‘scoring’ would come to something like this: Bird - 10/10; Monkey - 10/10; Elephant - 4/10; Seal - 3/10; Snail - 1/10; Fish - 0/10
Does this reflect the actual abilities of these individuals? Let’s look at an individual who has a reading difficulty. It may be a 12-year old boy who is in a good school but still cannot spell well, does not read fluently and often cannot understand what he reads. This is indeed far below the ‘norm’: with good tuition, a 12-year old should be able to read, able to gain new knowledge through reading and able to express himself in writing. So when this boy is writing a class test, he will definitely score very low. This accounts for one of the reasons some children drop out of public basic schools in Ghana as the whole process of teaching and learning is designed for "the average". Meanwhile this child may have very good visual abilities: he may be well able to learn through pictures or objects, and gain "above average" knowledge through these channels of learning. He also may be well able to express himself through drawing or sculpting or acting. His verbal abilities may also be 'above average', meaning that the same class test in oral form would have earned him high marks.
In Ghana learning is measured only through collective (written) tests. This means that children who have abilities that are outside the average are always at a disadvantage. They fail to benefit from the teaching and do not perform well in the 'fair assignments'. In a context of fewer possibilities of finding employment without formal education, these individuals will become more and more visible in society. In time, if the educational system does not provide better for them, they will become a burden on society for lack of alternative opportunities. The curriculum needs to be made more inclusive with a variety of learning activities which allow children to learn in different ways. And learning achievement levels should not be measured only through exams but be balanced with marks for practical activities and learning efforts. To make "Education for All" really beneficial to "All", 'Education' needs to be re-designed as a system that meets individual learning needs and measures learning according to abilities.
Special thanks go to Special Attention Project for this article. Find out more about their organisation at www.sapghana.com
Inclusion Ghana will be organizing a training for all of its member organizations on how to effectively create and maintain parents self help group(s) for persons with intellectual disability. If you are currently running a parents self-help group, or are just about to try your hands at facilitating one, and would like to learn strategies and techniques that might help, then this training was designed just for you. Join the training and also improve your knowledge on legislations that relate to persons with intellectual disabilities.
Mark your calendar now.
The date for the training is: Wed, 25th July- Thurs, 26th July, 2012
The umbrella term specific learning difficulties (SpLD) are used to cover a wide variety of difficulties for example reading or mathematics. These learning difficulties typically affect a student's motor skills, information processing and memory. No two individuals have the same combination of SpLD and it is impossible to extrapolate a description from one person to another.
This booklet gives more information on specific learning difficulties. The areas covered in the booklet are:
1. The different types of SpLD
2. Negative effects of specific learning difficulties on children
3. How to help children with SpLD. For example using pictures can help children with Dyspraxia learn their numbers or can help a child with autism understand what is going to happen in their day; making learning and living slightly easier
4. Understanding the Laws that are in place in Ghana to protect children and adults with SpLD against discriminative and exclusive behaviour
The booklet is available for download in the Reports section under Resources. It was developed by the Special Attention Project (SAP). SAP, a member of Inclusion Ghana, is a non-governmental organisation for out-of-school children with Specific Learning Difficulties. You can also request some copies from Inclusion Ghana or SAP directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also an ongoing campaign for children with specific learning difficulties. For more information on joining contact:
SPECIAL ATTENTION PROJECT (SAP)
Phone: +233 (0) 206 526444
Location: Shop SD1, 2nd Floor Kaneshie Market Complex
Autism knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries and can affect any family regardless of income, lifestyle or education. The chances of knowing a person or family affected by autism are increasing every single day. Imagine:
- A toddler who can’t tell you where it hurts or why he is upset.
- The 8-year-old who is socially awkward and can’t relate to her peers.
- The teenager with a developing body, but limited access to programs that help him grow and explore.
- The parents who lose sleep over who will provide care for their adult child with autism after they are gone.
You are not alone. The Autism Awareness Care & Training in collaboration with Awaawaa2 and Inclusion Ghana today advocates and offers effective services and supports for children with autism, offers reliable information to parents, and provides a platform so that parents, professionals, and those on the autism spectrum can meet, share resources and experiences, and receive the latest information.
Inclusion Ghana was recently represented at a National Stakeholder's forum on the persons with Disability Law, 2006 (ACT 715) organised by the Ghana Federation of the Disabled. The Objective of the forum was to chart the way forward on the development of appropriate Legislative Instrument (LI) for the Persons with Disability Law.
Since the passage of the Persons with Disability Law in 2006, there has been little or no commitment to the implementation of the provisions in the ACT, something that is very dear to Inclusion Ghana’s heart. Inclusion Ghana, being a major stakeholder, was invited to this strategic forum to make an input in charting the way forward of developing the operational guidelines. There was representation from the Government and the meeting was also well attended by Disabled People Organisations. With some commitments made by all present at the meeting after a lengthy discussion, it is hoped that by the end of September, the finalised LI with inputs from all stakeholders will be before Parliament for its passage so that the rights and needs of persons with disabilities can be demanded.