Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Education in Ghana


The purpose of the ICS LIFE project within CBR is to include young people with disabilities in mainstream education, and promote their inclusion in society. In terms of education, there are no local Special Schools that focus on providing education to specific people with disabilities, so children with special disabilities are sent to special schools outside the District. There are very few children with disabilities included in mainstream schools. This is due to cultural stigmas, perceptions about disabilities, and a lack of disability friendly school facilities and knowledge. There are also some people with disabilities who are not able to access any educational facilities. That is why my team and myself go about sensitizing the community on the rights of children and people with disabilities to have education and the establishment of disability sports clubs in local areas, so as to use sport as a tool for social inclusion.

Volunteering with International Service for the past couple of weeks has taught me that education is not only a setting in which students wear school uniforms and teachers stand in front of them to teach them with chalk in their hands, but also, there are other types of education, such as the informal, and the non-formal.  This reminds me of the ICO in tamale where my colleagues, Paul and Ida taught me how to say some basic greetings in the Builsa language- ‘saluik’ for good morning and ‘kantuet’ for good afternoon, I guess this means I was being educated on how to live in Sandema comfortably as a member of the community. Not to talk of my host family teaching me how to prepare some of the dishes in the northern region of Ghana like TZ, tubani, wasawasa and many more, I am sure I am going to teach my Ewe family who have no idea what TZ is when I go back home.

Hubert with his host home family 
It was so heart touching to see how interested the CBR community ICT club was eager to learn ICT from me the last time my team of volunteers of international service and myself went to interact with them.  I took the lead this day in teaching the ICT club some basics in computer studies, and they were all happy and willing to learn.  This community ICT club includes both people with and without disabilities, and it was interesting to see that those with disabilities were as active as those without disabilities or even more. This is to hammer on the fact that disability is not inability.

Sandema ICT class
All these experiences on placement have given me clearer idea as to what to do for my action at home, thus to educate people on the fact that disability is not inability, because working with them gave me a bigger hope in them.


Before the arrival of European settlers, education in Ghana was mainly informal and based on apprenticeships. The Europeans then built a formal education system which catered for society’s elite. The Education Act 1987, followed by the Ghana constitution in 1992, gave a new impetus to educational policies in the country. The numbers of children attending school greatly increased, although 10% of Ghanaian children still don’t have access to education. Across Africa there are around 128 million school-aged children, but less than half (61 million) will get the opportunity to attend school and learn basic skills. 17 million will never go to school.

When we first arrived in Sandema, we visited five schools. I learned a lot from the experience. We had to talk to the children outside due to the very limited space inside. The schools are basic with very little resources. The teachers were also marking the students’ papers outside under a tree because of the lack of space. I have found that even though there aren’t many resources for the children in school they are all very lovely – they listen well and participate.

I have learnt that there are a lot of barriers to education in Ghana: for example, having no teacher or having untrained teachers, no classrooms, a lack of learning materials, exclusion of people with disabilities, distance from home to school, and the expense of uniforms and books. Until recently, girls faced particularly great barriers to gaining an education because parents wanted their daughters to stay at home to help with the chores or they were worried about them travelling long distances to school by themselves.

One of the in-country volunteers in our team, Paul, has a physical disability and went to school in Sandema. He explained what it used be like going to school in Sandema. Paul didn’t attend school until he was 11 because his father didn’t want him to go, until one day Paul decided he wanted to go to school and went of his own accord. It was very difficult for him to travel to school and back because back then he did not have access to a wheelchair or a tricycle. He used to tie cloth to his knees and feet because the gravel would hurt him.  So even after Paul started school, he often missed days because he was tired from the journey.

Paul’s story and the visits to the school taught me and the rest of team to value education because not everyone has the opportunity to learn.

Kirsty, Joda and Carys with children of Sandema at school

By Hubert Treve and Kirsty Ellis 

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