Don Bosco Youth Network West Africa (DBYN), a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) in Ghana, has organized a three day training of trainer workshop dubbed "Inclusive Vocational Education in Ghana". The event took place at the Royal City Hotel, Ashaiman. The workshop was meant to provide international training for educational trainees under the project "Inclusive Vocational Training for Physically Handicapped and Socially Disadvantaged Youth in Southern Ghana", which is jointly sponsored by the Ministry for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Hit Foundation, Germany, in collaboration with Africa Action, Deutschland and Don Bosco Youth Network West Africa, Ghana.
The Beneficiary schools under the project are St. Mary's Vocational Training Institute, Baobab Children Foundation, New Century Career Training Institute and Evangelical Presbyterian Vocational Technical Institute, located in the Eastern, Central, Greater Accra and Volta Regions respectively.
Trainees were drawn from vocational, inclusive and special education centers in Ghana. They are Mr. Godfred Kwam Tay, St. Luke's Inclusive Vocational Institute, Ghana, Dinah Kwadade, Africa Action, Ghana, Godwin A.Y Kudese, National Vocational Training Institute, Ghana, Thomas Patrick Otaah, Special Education Division, Ghana and Mr. Bazaanah Prosper, Project Coordinator, Don Bosco Youth Network West Africa. Mr. Chris Ramdas, an international education trainer and a renounced technical education specialist from Media in Education Trust (MiET) Africa, a policy, innovative and inclusive education oriented think tank based in South Africa, served as the facilitator during the workshop. Trainees received technical skills and knowledge in inclusive vocational education and would in-turn serve as facilitators for training pedagogical and non-pedagogical staff of the selected vocational institutions in Ghana.
In welcoming participants, the Chief Executive Officer of DBYN, Mr. David Ampomah Mensah expressed appreciation to the international trainer for positively responding to the invitation to Ghana and for the self-less and dedicated services to the underprivileged, the poor, vulnerable and needy youth and children across the African continent and the world at large. He was optimistic that the three day training programme would provide opportunity for participants to share ideas, information, identify best practices, streamline local practices with internationally accepted standards and also enable trainees design appropriate training manuals for the various training services they were expected to provide for the beneficiary institutions in Ghana.
In his opening address, Mr. Ramdas noted with concern that disabled people do not want to be treated specially. They want to be recognized, accepted, treated fairly and offered equal opportunities from all sectors of societ. He emphasized the need for strong partnership among stakeholders in the education sector towards the development of holistic, mult-sectorial and integrated strategies for promoting quality teaching, creating disability-friendly environments, expanding access and opportunities and addressing barriers to learning and development in Ghana. To achieve these, Mr. Ramdas identified six focal areas for policy direction at all sectors:
i.Recognition, acceptance and respect for the rights of the disabled
ii.Funding for the disabled and providing social protection for the needy and the vulnerable in society.
iii.Systemic change/overhauling. i.e removing institutional barriers to education including infrastructure and trained special educators from all levels of the educational system.
iv.Strong, inclusive and sustainable partnership among educational stakeholders
v.Care and support for teaching and learning.
vi.Commitment by government ministries, departments and agencies
The trainees were exposed to critical issues and conditions that make the disabled vulnerable and affect their rights to education, institutional barriers to education, planning institutional support programmes and curriculum development for socially disadvantaged and disabled students, screening, identification, assessment and support needs for disabled students, advocacy and multi-level teaching and curriculum differentiation among others.
The participants expressed appreciation to Mr. Ramdas and Don Bosco Youth Network West Africa for the training materials and for the knowledge acquired from the workshop. They were positive that the new knowledge they acquired adequately prepared them to effectively perform their responsibilities of training the beneficiary schools of the project and in ensuring that vocational education institutions in Ghana became inclusive centers of teaching, learning and development.
BY: PROSPER BAZAANAH
(DON BOSCO YOUTH NETWORK WEST AFRICA)