HUMAN INTEREST STORIES
“Raruf is part of the school as much as anyone else”
Raruf lives in the Upper West region of Ghana, and he was born with a disability in his leg. After spending a few years with his family in Accra, Raruf’s father sent him home to his grandfather who enrolled him at Lambussie DA Primary School.
Settling in a new school and making friends is not easy in normal times, but in Raruf’s case, his legs and his difficulty to walk set him apart from the other children. “When I first arrived at school, the boys chased me away", he says. "They called me a 'sickler', they told me that I could not play with them. It made me feel sad. I used to say: ‘let me join you – you will see, God will help me’”.
Health examinations to highlight potential disabilities and refer for treatment
With the support from the German National Committee, UNICEF is working with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to implement Inclusive Education (IE) in schools to welcome and respond to difference and diversity. One part of the programme aims at examining students on sight, hearing, speech and mobility, so as to highlight any potential physical or intellectual disability. Although no children with severe disabilities were recorded at Lambussie DA Primary School, the examination conducted by UNICEF and the GES revealed a number of children with blocked ears, ringworm and other skin infections, and parents were encouraged to seek medical help where necessary.
Inclusive education is about providing a safe environment for all children to learn
According to Augustin Bamie, the school headmaster, the health examination process is only the surface of the IE initiative. He believes that schools like his should provide a safe and friendly environment for children like Raruf to feel included. “Our school was sensitized to Inclusive Education practices three years ago”, Mr Bamie explains. “We were taught about the importance of non-discrimination based on gender, religion, disability or special needs. In the case of Raruf, we’ve explained to the children that he is normal, that he is part of the school just as much as they are. We taught them the principles of including each other. It took them a while at first, but now they’ve finally accepted him”.
Raruf’s grandfather is extremely grateful that his grandson is able to attend school like the rest of the children: “I didn’t receive an education myself”, he says. “I am happy that my boy is included and that he has a chance to build his future. He belongs to the next generation”.