On Tuesday April 21, 2015, Patriots UG, a University of Ghana campus branch of Patriots Ghana held the finals of their regional reading competition which has been ongoing in the La-Nkwantanang Municipality of the Greater Accra Region. The competition forms part of Patriots UG’s reading project which is aimed at giving children in the basic schools the opportunity to develop reading skills and habits, and above all, build their confidence and intellect.
The finals of the competition was held at Queen of Peace Primary School and participating schools were Madina Primary School, SDA Primary School, Emmanuel Presbyterian Primary School and the host; Queen of Peace Primary school.
It was an exciting event as participants exhibited their brilliance in attempts to win the approval of the judges and the admiration of the audience. They were taken through spelling, sod drill and reading of passages where their speed, pronunciation, punctuation, flair and confidence were tested. At the end of the last round, SDA Primary School emerged victors of the day, with Emmanuel Presby and Queen of Peace Primary School placing second and third respectively. The winners took away a trophy and other items including school bags, stationaries and certificates whiles the rest took home stationaries and certificates of participation. Reading clubs have been set up in the various schools to keep the reading habits of the pupils ablaze.
In a speech read on her behalf, the patron for Patriots UG, Dr. Emma Seyram Hamenoo noted that education is a continuous process hence the need to pay special attention to foundational education to equip pupils with the necessary skills as they grow up. She further called on parents and teachers to desist from using corporal punishments to discipline pupils but rather, they should use rewards and compliments because these are proven to have long term positive effects on the children.
Written by Raymond Taaku
The Contestants with the Jud
The seminar was held on Monday 1st of April 2013 from 10am to 12.30pm in the OLA College of Education Assembly Hall. This seminar was therefore organized in partnership with CLED Ghana and OLA college of education, Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana. The aim of this seminar is to strengthen student teacher trainees’ knowledge and understanding of Specific Learning Difficulties; its causes, signs and the necessary support strategies needed to ensure that pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties experience optimum quality education, able to access the curriculum and be inclusive so that they can reach their maximum potential possible. In all 457 participants participated including 4 CLED Ghana and 2 Patriot Ghana Team members, 5 Lecturers from OLA College of Education, 442 student teacher trainees of OLA College of Education and 4 Representative from Youth As A Mission Development Association, Osanko and Vision Rural Development Foundation.
The seminar helped in improving 442 participants’ knowledge and understanding of learning disabilities and some management and support strategies.
This project is being run nationwide in partnership with CLED Ghana. Campaign For Learning Disabilities (CLED Ghana) is a nonprofit organization in Ghana registered under the Registrar Generals Department of the republic of Ghana, as a Non-Governmental Organization (N.G.O.) and it has been incorporated under the Ghana Companies Code 1963 (ACT 179) and issued with certificate number G-39,991. CLED Ghana seeks to form a partnership to develop, empower and support children and youth with learning disabilities have every opportunity to succeed in school, work and life through: advocacy, education, health assistance, training services, support research; life skills leadership and career coaching and support.
OLA COLLEGE OF EDUCATION
Is a teacher training institution located at cape coast in the central region of Ghana, West Africa.
Background to the seminar
One of the key issues surrounding participation in basic schooling both in Ghana and the world over is the phenomenon of specific learning disability. Learning disability is known not as a single condition but an umbrella condition that is not well understood. In this regard questions and answers that lead our community fora and seminars indicate that Ghanaian communities, parents and teachers have very little or no knowledge about children/youth with Specific Learning Disabilities. As a result, they consider them as lazy, useless and parents use them for their economic activities and as surrogate parents while they face hate crime from teachers, peers and families. Our observational visit in some schools also revealed that, Ghana Education System does not provide sufficient support to pupils with specific learning difficulties. The rationale for this seminar argues that unless Learning disability is understood by teacher trainees, they will not be able to provide any meaningful support and intervention to pupils with learning disabilities in the mainstream school system. It is against this background that Patriots Ghana in partnership with CLED Ghana and OLA college of education in Ghana organized this seminar to equip student teacher trainees’ with knowledge and understanding of Specific Learning Difficulties; its causes, signs and the necessary support strategies needed to ensure that pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties experience optimum quality education, able to access the curriculum and be inclusive so that they can reach their maximum potential possible.
THE SEMINAR ACTIVITIES
The seminar was held on Monday 1st of April 2013 from 10am to 12.30pm in the OLA College of Education’s Assembly Hall in the Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly of the Central Region of Ghana, West Africa between the hours 8:00am to 12:30pm. An opening and a closing prayer was said by Rev. John Manso-Hamilton of the OLA College of Education, the host institution. Welcome address was given by Mrs. Rose Buah-Bassuah, Head of Education Department of the OLA College of Education, the host institution. Dr. (Mrs.) Nana Ama Browne Klutse of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission; University of Cape Coast and the Chairperson for CLED Ghana gave the purpose for the seminar. She also educated participants on specific learning disabilities, its causes and effects. Mr. Eric Opoku Agyemang, the National Coordinator of Patriots Ghana schooled the participants on the aims and activities of CLED Ghana and Patriots Ghana. Mr. Eric Kpegah a Special Education Resource Officer from Ghana Education service and also a volunteer for CLED Ghana schooled the participants on signs and characteristics of children with learning disabilities. The Programme Coordinator of CLED Ghana Mr. Padmore Abeku Quansah, also took the participants through specific types of learning disabilities, nine intelligence and some classroom support strategies.
Questions and answers
In all participants were given platform to ask questions and their questions were addressed by the facilitators. Closing remarks Rev. John Manso-Hamilton of the OLA College of Education, the host institution in his closing remarks entreated the students to make good use of the knowledge gained at the seminar when they enter the teaching profession.
After the seminar, Patriots Ghana and CLED Ghana team met with some college authorities to discuss a formal partnership memorandum of understanding to create a Chapter of Patriots Ghana on campus and also for CLED to continue training of inflow of student teachers. We came to a consensus that a document on the MOU be sent to the Principal of the College for his perusal.
STATISTICS ON PARTICIPATION
a. Patriots Ghana Rep 2 males b. CLED members present were 3 male and 1 female c. College Staff present 3 males and 2 females d. Student Teacher Trainees present were 442 females e. Other NGOs representatives present 4 Total: 457 Participants Outcome/ Results of the Seminar A post seminar interview with some lecturers and the students revealed that: • Pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties in Ghana will now have access to at least 442 teachers with enhanced knowledge and critical understanding of specific learning difficulties • Ghana will now have 442 teachers from OLA College of Education with skills and knowledge to provide the needed support to learners with such difficulties under their tutelage. • 442 student teachers now understand the broad range of learning needs encompassed in the term of Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Scotopic Sensitivity or Meares-Irlen Syndrome). • 442 student teachers also now understand learning disabilities terminology, definition, causes, signs, implications for teaching and classroom support strategies.
The major challenges to the seminar were funds to procure resources for participants to practice and demonstrate support strategies discussed with them; give participants handouts and to provide some snacks participants for the long hours spent on this day.
We learnt that, involvement others especially the beneficiary, earned their commitment, trust, participation and support. We learnt that collaborating with other NGOs erase duplication of programme, resources but create room for empowerment, sharing experiences and expertises. We learned through pre and post seminar questions and answers, interview sessions that, the participants were having very little or no knowledge about specific learning disabilities.
EXPECTATION AND THE WAY FORWARD
To replicate and up-scale this initiative to other teacher training colleges (37) in Ghana and also to sign MOU with colleges of education and make this programme a regular feature of their academic calendar.
The response through post seminar questions and answers, open discussions, and, phone-calls etc are a clear indication that a major and lasting impact has been made and require to be sustained and replicated so as to eventually reach the avowed target of improving teachers understand and knowledge of learning disabilities terminology, definition, causes, signs, implications for teaching and classroom support strategies
There should be more training on learning disabilities for teachers • In-service training for teachers must be done termly • Government and development partners should consider supporting and collaborating with NGOs working in the area of Learning Disabilities.
Responses from Some Participants
“I joined the seminar to help me prepare for teaching to meet the needs of learners with learning disabilities,” said a student. “I enjoy being part of this programme, because I learn how to deal with children with learning disabilities.” Mrs. Meteku CEO of OSANKO a retired educationist who attended this seminar said “I think this seminar provides an alternative approach to strengthening student teacher trainees’ preparation that could be used to enhance knowledge of teacher trainees in other 37 teacher training colleges.” I think this could help pupils with Learning disabilities succeed in school. Mr. Affenyi Robert student from University of Cape Coast who attended the seminar said ‘In a country where we are now practicing inclusive education, this seminar offers a cost-effective alternative to delivering learning opportunities on children with learning disabilities to teacher trainees. It also offers Ghana the chance to break the vicious cycle of exclusion, and poor performance in school.’
Some Contacts For Seminar Verification
Dr. (Mrs.) Nana Ama Browne Klutse (Ghana Atomic Energy Commission):+233 244983637 Rev. John Manso-Hamilton, a lecturer of the OLA College of Education: +233 Mr. Daniel Bakah (CEO of Youth As A Mission Development Association):+233 247650915 Mrs. Meteku (CEO of OSANKO): +233 244108476 Mr. Eric Opoku Agyemang (National Coordinator of Patriots Ghana):+233 262626182
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Almighty God for gracing and making this seminar a success. We are also thankful to CLED Ghana and Learning Disability Carers Community of United Kingdom not only for their support for this seminar but also the time we spent working together on the seminar. We are also grateful for the platform and supports given us by the Management of OLA College of Education in Ghana to have such a seminar with their student teacher trainees. Next, we extent our appreciation to Youth As A Mission Development Association, OSANKO, Vision Rural Development Foundation and Friends of the Disabled Club of OLA College of Education. We are grateful to all the student teachers who assisted us during the seminar period. Finally we thank all those who participated in this seminar especially the student teacher trainees whose cooperation made the completion of this seminar successful. Many thanks to everyone who spent time reading this report. Blessings!
Patriots Ghana Team
On the 10th March, 2013 Patriots Ghana in Collaboration with CLED Ghana organised a community Forum on Campaign for Learning Disabilities to educate the community members on the causes, effects, prevention, and strategies on how learning disabilities can be managed to help minimize school dropout rate in the community as well as improve the learning ability and performance of school children in the Nyanfeku Akrowful community.
INTRODUCTION OF PROJECT
Campaigns for Learning Disabilities project works to support children and youth with learning disabilities have every opportunity to succeed in school, work and life. Patriots Ghana and CLED Ghana provides informational awareness and training to parents, teachers, stakeholders, communities and individuals with learning disabilities, promotes programs to foster effective learning and advocates for policies to safeguard and strengthen educational rights and opportunities for children/youth with learning disabilities.
Since its inception, the project has been run by passionate and devoted special educators, lecturers, parents and youth committed to creating better outcomes for children, and youth with learning disabilities. Patriots Ghana and CLED have also commitment to promoting the success and dignity of children suffering from learning disabilities, making Children with Learning Disabilities realize their full Potential.
BACKGROUND OF THE FORUM
An interview was conducted on knowledge and understanding of specific learning disabilities and behaviour problems for selected parents, teachers and other stakeholders in Nyanfeku Akrowful in the central region of Ghana. One of the outcomes showed that teachers, parents and community members have very little or no knowledge when it comes to pupils who suffer from Specific Learning Disabilities. As a result, teachers and parent are not able to identify the difficulties children encounter when they learn.
Our observational visit in Nyanfeku Akrowful Basic School also revealed that, the school system does not provide sufficient support to pupils with specific learning difficulties. Poverty, hate crime and lack of support have forced many children with learning disabilities to sacrifice education for streetism, child labour, early marriages, and other activities.
Furthermore, since 2007, the community has been recording about 50% failure in the Basic Education Certificate Examination. These factors prevent these children from accessing primary, Secondary and Vocational Education. These difficulties children encounter when learning could be minimized if early interventions are put in place. It is against this background that CLED and Patriots Ghana proposed a community forum and donation programme at Nyanfeku Akrowful in the Abura-Aseibu-Kwamankese District of the Central Region of Ghana to:
1. Increase awareness and understanding of community members on specific learning disabilities and support strategies
2. Increase sensitivity and responsiveness of community Duty-Bearers towards provision of community-based support system for children with learning disabilities
3. Reduce by 10% the rate parents’ use their children with learning disabilities for economic activities
4. Reduce the hate crime children with learning disabilities face in school and home and
5. Donate clothing articles to poverty ridden families of children with learning disabilities
THE FORUM ACTIVITIES
The forum was held on Sunday 10th March, 2013 at the community durbar grounds of Nyanfeku Akrowful between the hours 3:00pm to 5:40pm. The Chairperson of CLED Ghana Dr. Nana Ama Browne made an introductory address and purpose for the forum. The Programme Coordinator of CLED Mr. Padmore Abeku Quansah, presented a paper on specific learning disabilities, types, its causes, effects , prevention and management and support strategies.
Mr. Marten Ofori, a father of an eight year old girl with Down syndrome and learning disability gave a message of advice making participants aware and understand that children with learning disability have basic human right and they are very creative. He told the gathering that his daughter is very creative and entreated families to accept and understand the diversity of their children.
Mr. Eric Opoku Agyemang National Coordinator of Patriots Ghana also delivered a message of advice that children with learning disabilities can participate in all learning activities but needs differentiated instruction, patience and task analyzing their learning activities. He also called on participants to eschew the use of children with learning problems for economic activities.
Further, a message of advice from Susan Kellett (founder) Learning Disability Carers Community, UK, educated the gathering that Children with Learning Disabilities face challenges throughout their lives. But showing them love, encouragement and support will help to ensure that they develop a strong sense of self-worth, confidence and the determination to keep going even when things are tough. She also entreated parents to look for more areas in which their child will show gifts and talents and give their support for their education as is of paramount importance. Her message of advice was translated and read in the local dialect by Mr. Patrice John Couffie, a project volunteer of CLED.
In all participants were given platform to ask questions and their questions were addressed.
Mrs. Browne one of the key duty-bearers of the community, in her closing remarks entreated participants to make good use of knowledge gained at the forum.
With the support of Staff of DHL Global Forwarding, Ghana clothing items were donated to poverty stricken families of children with learning disabilities drawn from 6 electoral areas.
STATISTICS ON PARTICIPATION
a. CLED members present were 2 males and 1 female
b. Media (Metro TV staff) 2 males
c. Patriots Ghana Rep 1 male
d. Community Elders/duty bearers present were 23 men and 7 females
e. Community members present were 267 males and 233 females
f. Children present were 195
g. Guest parent present 1
h. Volunteers present 1
Total: 733 Participants
1. Community members are now aware and understand why some children have a discrepancy between the class placement and achievement level
2. Community members are now aware and have knowledge about learning disabilities, some types, causes, effects, management and support strategies.
3. A message of advice from Susan Kellett (founder) Learning Disability Carers Community, Uk, has made parents aware and understand that children with learning disabilities have different ability, talents and gifts which needs to be identified and developed as well as education is of paramount importance.
4. A message of advice from Mr. Marten Ofori, a father of an eight year old girl with Down syndrome and learning disability encouraged parental understanding and acceptance of children with learning disabilities.
5. Mr. Eric Opoku Agyemang National Coordinator of Patriots Ghana, made parents understand that differentiated instruction, patience and task analyze could be used help children with learning disabilities learn activities as well as the use of children with learning problems for economic activities will endanger their future.
6. Increased sensitivity and responsiveness of 30 community Duty-Bearers towards provision of community-based support system for children with learning disabilities. Hence a MOU signed with CLED to train community school teachers
7. 6 Electoral areas in the community have some clothing item to support poverty ridden families of children with learning disabilities.
8. An estimated 4million to 8million audience who watch Metro TV will also benefit from the forum.
Lateness among some community members derailed program processes.
Church services on the day presented a challenge as some churches were conducting fundraising activities, hence could not closed early from church and this pushed the forum one hour ahead.
Some community members could not attend
We learned through the questions and answers, interview sessions that, community members were having very little or no knowledge about Specific Learning Disabilities.
We also learnt that planning, implementing and evaluation programmme with community involvement especially beneficiaries court their commitment, trust, participation and make it community owned.
We further learnt that mobilizing community resources make programme community owned and cost effective.
We learnt, bringing parents of children with special needs to share experiences and a message of advice also promote parental acceptance, love and support
Last but not the least, we learnt that collaborating with other NGOs erase duplication of programme, resources and also create room for sharing experience and expertise.
CRITICAL ISSUES THAT CROPPED UP DURING THE FORUM
Interview with some children revealed that they face hate crime (e.g bullying, teasing etc) both at home and school because they have learning problems. And that some parents use them for economic activities.
COMMUNITY EXPECTATION AND THE WAY FORWARD
• A policy advocacy with the District Education Directorate
• Training of community school teachers on specific learning disabilities
• Forming Community-based parents support group
• School Based sensitization against learning disability hate crime
Even though, a day was grossly not enough period to achieve much with such program, the overwhelming response in the form of comments, questions and concerns raised by virtually all population segments of the participated beneficiaries and homes through post forum questions and answers, open discussions, and , phone-calls etc are a clear indication that a major and lasting impact has been made and require to be sustained and replicated so as to eventually reach the avowed target of improving wellbeing of children with learning problems and create continuity in their educational, social, vocational and cultural opportunities and integration.
• There should be more community-based education on Learning disabilities
• There should be advocacy forum targeting policy-makers and duty-bearers in the central region and Ghana as a whole
• In- service training for teachers must be done termly
• There should be formation of Community-Based Parents Support Groups
• There should be child right education
• Development partners should consider supporting and collaborating with NGOs working in the area of Learning Disabilities.
ATTACHMENT AND APPENDIX
1. Responses of some participants
Comfort Baidoo (community member), when interviewed after the forum said, those who spoke did well because when you give birth to a child you should take good care of him or her as you might not know the future. She further said I have learnt some new things that every child is unique individual and has potential and my advice is that All parents should take care of their children.
Augustina Esi (community member), when interviewed after the forum said, in fact I am happy about this programme because I have learnt that each child can perform well when given the needed attention. The new thing I have learnt is that no matter how the child is do well to educate him or her. The programme was successful and I have learnt a lot.
Mr. Marten Ofori, a father of an eight year old girl with Down syndrome and learning disability, when interviewed after the forum said, I benefited from the forum because it has added to my store of knowledge in management of my daughter and love to see more of these programme to safeguard the right of children with special needs.
Below Are Some Contacts For Forum Verification
Mrs. Browne Assembly woman:
Mr. Gregory S. Acquah community elder and secretary: +233 542886255
Mr. Charles Yeboah (Teacher): +233 243648793
Mr. Cornelius Nortey (Metro TV Correspondent): +233 246579218
Mr. Eric Opoku Agyemang (Projects Director of Patriots Ghana):+233 262626182
MR. PADMORE QUANSAH +233 249199499
Please visit the Flickr link below to see more pictures of the event