A Deputy Minister of Education, Rev. John Ntim Fordjour, has stressed the need for graduating teacher trainees to be inclusive teachers.
This way, he explained, they would be able to meet the needs of the different types of children in the classroom.
Rev. Fordjour stressed that inclusive education must not be the reserve or preserve of a few teachers, who had gone through training in that specialisation.
“Every teacher coming out to teach must understand that in the classroom, we are not going to separate the pupils.
“We are going to have everyone — those without any special needs, those with intellectual developmental disabilities, those with learning disabilities and those with visible and non-visible disabilities all in the same classroom just as we learn to live in the home together,” he said.
Rev. Fordjour said this at a three-day dyscalculia and dyslexia teaching strategies workshop organised in Accra yesterday, by the Africa Dyslexia Organisation and Mission Paediatrics with support from the British Council.
Dyslexia is a condition of neurodevelopmental origin that mainly affects the ease with which a person reads, writes, and spells, while dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand number-based information and maths.
Attended mostly by teachers, parents and physicians, the Rev. Fordjour said as teachers, it often took them too long to realise that a child had a disability as a result of which they were unable to catch up with what was being taught.
A situation which, he said, caused the teachers to vent their frustrations on the child without regard to the deeper struggles and psychological trauma that such children might be going through.
He stressed the need for every district in the country to have an educational assessment resource centre to enable children to undergo screening early and be assessed to determine whether they had any hidden disabilities and where they did, education was tailored to suit their needs.
Why the workshop
The founder of Africa Dyslexia Organisation, Rosalind Abigail Kyere-Nartey, said the workshop was organised because, “we realise that most teachers are not aware of the two conditions even though there are quite a number of children who have them”.
The workshop was, therefore, to train the teachers to be able to identify early, their pupils who suffered from those conditions and offer them individualised learning.
She said the programme was started three years ago online due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, with the restrictions on the pandemic lifted, they decided to do it in-person.
Sharing her own challenges with dyslexia growing up, she said such children had potentials in them and as teachers, there was the need for them to help bring those potentials out.
The Chief Executive Officer and Director of Mission Pediatrics, Dr Marilyn Marbell-Wilson, said because dyslexia and dyscalculia were not common in the past, parents and teachers referred to children, who had such conditions as lazy.
She stressed the need for early diagnosis of dyslexia and discalculia in children, explaining that research and science had shown that children, who were diagnosed early with those conditions, did not go through the psychological trauma associated with their below average performance in school.