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Monday, January 30, 2023

Inclusive Education: How the absence of Ghana Learning Television channel is eroding efforts made in inclusive education

The conspicuous absence of the Ghana Learning Television’s channel on the television sets of many in the northern region has brought learning to a halt for most students in the region. Many since the launch of the 24 hours learning platform in April have never had the opportunity to stay connected.
The President of the Republic Nana Addo Dankwa in March this year closed public and private schools in Ghana to curb the spread of the novel Corona Virus. Subsequently, the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) launched the GTV E-Learning to keep students engaged and avoid rusting while they stay at home.
Though final year students of public universities, senior and junior high schools including form two gold trackers resumed academic activities in June, schools remain closed for nursery to JHS two, SHS one, and form two green trackers.
Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, and English Language contents produced by the GES for basic school students are broadcast on the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation owned platform. But pupils in the Yoggu community in the Tolon district of the northern region have yet to study alongside the teachers on the platform.
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Twelve years Salmu Alhassan was enrolled in the Savelugu School for the Deaf in the Savelugu Municipality in November 2019, by NORSAAC, under the Promoting Adolescent Safe spaces project.
She has hearing and speech impairment from childhood which became the barriers to her education as her parents neither believed in educating her until the team of NORSAAC staff discovered her in 2019.
“I saw no need to enroll her in school not because I did not want her educated but felt it was a waste of resources because she just could not understand anything”.
“Communicating with her is very difficult, you avoid sending her to pick something even from the room because she will keep picking wrong items until she picks the exact thing she’s been asked to bring”, her father had told NORSAAC.
However, after barely four months in school, Mr. Fuseini Alhassan said he has seen tremendous improvement in his daughter.
“Now, with just a little description, she is able to do exactly what you ask her to do”.
Salmu’s eagerness to sign to her sponsors was evident of her improvement as she signed “good morning, how are you”, and her name to the team during a recent visit accompanied by ZAMI Reports.
Salmu Alhassan signs “good morning, how are you”, and her name to the Programme Manager of the Promoting Adolescent Safe Spaces project Madam Nancy Yeri. Buta Photography for www.zamireports.com
The visit was to primarily to see how she is learning under the global pandemic which has grounded education in many countries to a halt.
“She once in a while takes her books to learn the sign language but has never watched the teachers on tv because we do not have the GTV E-Learning signal”, a worried father told the Project Manager for the Promoting Adolescent Safe Spaces project, Madam Nancy Yeri.
For almost two hours, Madam Nancy and her colleagues scanned the only functioning television set in her house for the Ghana Television signal but to no avail. With the sign language interpreter, Salmu would have no difficulty understanding the the teachers on television.
“I really thought I would meet her learning but as you can see she isn’t”, she lamented in an interview.
NORSAAC, through UNFPA-UNICEF global program to accelerate actions to end child marriage in 2018 launched the Promoting Adolescent Safe Spaces (PASS) project to provide age specific content delivered to adolescents who have over the years not been targeted through child targeted interventions.
Through the use of tools such as the child protection toolkit, GREAT tools, and other activities, the project is able to build the cognitive skills of adolescent girls to make informed choices. With support from the PASS project, girls with disabilities like Salmu Alhassan have overcome what would have been an impediment on their education.
Her location,  a rural community away from the Northern regional capital Tamale should have been her biggest challenge in accessing special education since the nearest of such schools, the Savelugu School for the Deaf is at least two hours drive from her community.
Under the PASS project, NORSAAC is working with eighty (80) safe spaces in forty (40) communities in six (6) districts and municipalities namely; Tolon, Kpandai, Tatale districts in the Northern region, Mamprugu Moagduri district and West Mamprusi Municipality in the Northeast region, and Bole district in the Savannah region.
“She used to just cry when she was abused in any way but now she is able to give a vivid explanation of who did what to her in our absence”, Mr Fuseini Alhassan intimated.
The Safe spaces empowers girls to report cases of gender-based violence at home and in school, receiving reproductive health information that will prevent teenage pregnancy, a factor that induces child marriage, and making choices of pursuing education, for out of school adolescent mothers, as well as pursuing skills training.
“The project also focuses on empowering girls on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH), targeting the most vulnerable girls at risk of or are affected by child marriage including children with disability.
Salmu is also among some 2280 girls who are accessing reproductive health services under the PASS project in the six districts and municipalities.
Though NORSAAC is keenly monitoring the progress of Salmu, the current situation is a clear indication of how gains made by Civil Society Organizations in educating the underprivileged and meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 4 which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all are been eroded.
Zubaida Afua Mabuno Ismail|www.zamireports.com|Tolon|N/R

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