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General News of Sunday, 20 May 2007

Source: GNA

First GES Special Needs Education Centre

Accra, May 20, GNA - A 421-million-cedi Special Needs Education Centre, the first within the Ghana Education Service has been established at the Richard Akwei Memorial School in Accra.

The British High Commission in Accra, the Special Needs, Counseling and Drama Therapy Centre, Flexcon Construction Limited and the Ghana Education Service sponsored the project initiated by the School Management Committee (SMC) and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of the School.

It is the second after the first pilot scheme in Ghana at the Ghana International School also in Accra.

Speaking at the inauguration of the three-classroom facility including a library and a shed for outdoor activities for the centre, the Guest Speaker for the occasion, Mr Alex Archine of the Oak Financial Services, said there were more than six million children with special education needs throughout the world who needed help to cope with and benefit from the educational system especially at the pre-school level. He expressed happiness about the location of the centre, which he said would benefit the underprivileged and vulnerable with support to enable children with special education needs to develop their talents. Mr Archine called for a change in traditional and cultural practices that hindered the development of such children since their fortunes could be turned around to make them useful with "a little support".

He appealed to parents to take advantage of the facilities for the benefit of their children with special education needs. In a welcoming address Ms Doris Dzesu, Headmistress of the School, stressed the need to identify the special educational needs of pupils for solution to enable them to be part of the educational system. She commended the SMC for engaging the services of an Educational Psychologist, Mrs Naa Kwaaley Dove, who used Drama Therapy, Analytical Psycho Therapy and Psychodrama to help pupils with special needs to improve their quality of life.

Ms Dzesu stated that 65 pupils had gone through the programme to gain self-confidence and acceptance of their peers and were now in the mainstream curriculum.

She thanked the SMC and PTA of the school and the sponsors for the provision of infrastructure for the project. The British High Commission in Accra provided 209 million cedis out of the estimated 421 million cedis with the SMC and PTA giving the rest of the amount.

The Deputy British High Commissioner, Mr Richard Powell, described the inauguration of the project within the Britain-Ghana Week celebration and Ghana's Golden Jubilee celebration as a "Birthday" present from United Kingdom to the community. He commended Ghana for playing an important role in international affairs and expressed the hope that the facilities provided would boost relations between Britain and Ghana.

Alhajia Alima Mahama, Minister for Women and Children's Affairs, in a speech on her behalf said according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 10 per cent of the population of children worldwide had special education needs.

She stressed the need to provide such children with Psycho - social

Support and counseling and called for the incorporation of the health and nutritional needs of such pupils in their education especially at the pre-school level.

The Minister appealed to the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to make room for the educational development of pupils with special needs in the educational system. Mrs Naa Kwaaley Dove, said the first pilot scheme was started in 2001 and a Non-governmental organisation (NGO) established in 2003 to seek funding from the Social Investment Fund (SIF).

She said the Special Educational Needs Counseling and Drama Therapy Centre (SENCDRAC) was set up to assist schools in Accra to develop support programmes for pupils with special needs to enable them build self esteem through drama therapy to unearth their creative talents and develop their communication skills.

The Member of Parliament for the Ododiodoo, Mr Jonathan Tackie Komme, commended the British High Commission for its assistance to the project and praised the SMC and the PTA for their efforts in the transformation of the school and providing facilities to improve teaching and learning.

Mr Tackie Komme who contributed 50 million cedis from his share of the GETFund towards the project requested the school authorities to provide him with the estimates for the completion of three classrooms on the top level of the building.

The MP also promised to source for funds from financial institutions in the constituency for the completion of the project. Mr Samuel Armah, Chairman of the PTA, appealed to parents in the area to send their children with special education needs to send them to the school instead of "hiding" them in their houses. He also called on parents with children and wards in the school to contribute their quota for the development of facilities to make the Richard Akwei Memorial School a first class institution for the benefit of the pupils.

Mr Armah said projects funded by the PTA at the school included the provision of a three-classroom block, a Vocational Skills Centre, telephone and fax facilities for the administration of the school, furniture for teachers and pupils, a computer laboratory and training for teachers and the renovation of the Head teacher's office and staff common room.

The SMC Chairman, Mr Daniel Nii Okai said the on-going project at the school was the provision of three-room first floor classrooms while there were plans for a kindergarten, library, science laboratory, paving the compound, a bookshop, communication and secretarial centre, a food court and a bigger computer laboratory, He commended the USAID QUIPS, SIF, the African Development Bank, FLEXCON limited, the British High Commission, the MP, Standard Charted Bank, Lion's Club, Rotary Club, the British Navy and the Barclays Bank for their assistance to the school. 20 May 07