Let’s intensify public education to reduce stigma against children with special needs

Accra, May 26, GNA-The Country Representative of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Mr Daniel Mumuni, has emphasised the need for Ghana to intensify its public education to help minimize stigma against children with special needs and their families.

He made the call when the group donated some assorted food items to the Dzorwulu Special School, in Accra, as part of its annual community day celebration.

The items, worth GH¢12,000, included: bags of rice, soap, tins of milk, tomato paste, cans of milo, canned fish, packs of bottled water, among others.

Mr Mumuni said one major problem impeding children with special needs from realising their potential was society's continuous disapproval of their existence.

He said: “We all know the stigma children with special needs are exposed to, not only them, but their families.”

He said in some parts of the country, the situation had led to the killing of children with special needs at birth, while some were abandoned at various special homes by their parents.

The Country Representative of CRS said intensive and effective public education was, therefore, required to change the mindset of the public about such children and make them appreciate the potential, talents and skills they wielded.

He added that conscious efforts must also be made through increased education for parents to enable them to understand and appreciate children with special needs and give them the necessary love and care.

“If people are pointing at your children or don't want them to come close to their families or their children, it really creates a stigma and it's embarrassing for parents.

“So, it's really important that both parents are taught to express that love to understand that the circumstances of these children can only be cushioned or limited with love,” he said.

On the reasons for donating to the school, the Country Representative said, donation formed part of CRS' mission of engaging and giving back to communities within which they operated and food was one of the greatest basic needs of every institution and hoped the items would cushion the school to increase their nutritional needs.

Mr Mumuni assured authorities of the School of their continued support, and appealed to benevolent individuals, non-governmental organisations and religious groups, to pool resources together and provide assistance to the school, to compliment government's efforts.

Mr Frederick Tetteh, Headmaster, Dzorwulu Special School, commended CRS for the support which he said would help management take good care of the children.

Established in 1970, the school currently has a student population of 205.

The headmaster said the school was overwhelmed with the teacher-student ratio as a result of increase in students population over the years.

“What I can say for now is that the school is growing. When it was established in 1970, the school wasn’t like this. And handling this kids, it’s supposed to be five to a teacher, but currently more than 20 students are been handled by one teacher,” he lamented.

He appealed to the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to support the school with more teaching assistants, to ensure effective teaching and learning.

CRS is an international development organisation in Ghana, established in 1958.

It, currently, operates in 114 countries globally.