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Regional News of Sunday, 18 October 2015

Source: The Finder

Wa School for the Blind in crisis

Minister of Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang Minister of Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang

The Wa Methodist School for the Blind, the only institution of its kind serving the three northern regions and other communities across the country, is in a deplorable state.

In an interview, management explained that the school is in crisis, and appealed to government, corporations, NGOs, philanthropists and individuals to apply leverage with the curious and zealous but visually-impaired youth and resuscitate effective teaching and learning in the school.

In June 2011 for instance, fire gutted the boys dormitory and the assembly hall of the school.

Since then, the skeletal structures remain untouched, and so far there seem to be no hope on the horizon.

As a result, management has been compelled to use the dinning hall as the assembly hall.

The situation has become so chaotic and appalling that the pupils/students, who are visually impaired, are unable to locate their seats because of the makeshifts and congestion.

Management enumerated some of the critical challenges the school is currently facing. These include dilapidated and uninhabitable staff bungalows; inadequate feeding grants, leading to lackadaisical attitude on the part of food contractors to continue with food supplies; poor lighting system, coupled with serious soil erosion within the premises, resulting in frequent falling of students due to the potholes and rough terrain.

The headmistress, Mrs Grace Amoah, lamented that some of the students lie on the bare floor because the mattresses are few, with most of the beds broken. Due to population increase and the subsequent increase in enrollment levels, as well as the introduction of new programmes, the headmistress said there is crushing pressure on most of the existing facilities.

Although the school receives some support from the Ghana Education Service (GES) and other agencies, the school is in serious need.

Some of the heads of department who spoke to Weekend Finder said the institute lacks other critical materials such as parkins, stylus, writing film, cubarism cubes and boards, Braille papers and textbooks in braille. They said there is the urgent need to acquire modern Braille books to equip the school library, which is currently laden with volumes of outmoded books.

Sadly, the only KVIP is virtually unusable, and the kindergarten (KG), which admits kids up to age four, has no play equipment/kits to help them develop physically and mentally.

The vocational programme, which prepares pupils to acquire livelihood skills and earn a living even when they fail to continue with their education, is also ill-functioning due to insufficient materials and equipment.

In spite of these constraints, management is making frantic efforts to prepare students for academic and functional success, with a special focus on an Expanded Core Curriculum Skills such as orientation and mobility, dressing, toileting, feeding, social interaction, assistive technology and sensory skills.

A senior staff member, Mr Sallam says, “The students have a bright future, but coming from poor parents who are barely able to take care of them, and who do not even value their education, more support is needed from government, civil society organisations and individuals to meet, at least, the minimal operational requirements of the school. These pupils have won many medals in inter-school competitions."

Established in 1958 by the Methodist Church - Ghana, the school’s mission is to prepare and equip children with special needs from the kindergarten to post Junior Secondary School with the requisite academic, socio-economic and moral training necessary for self-reliance. It has a kindergarten, primary, junior secondary, multi-handicap and vocational departments. The school’s current enrollment stands at 250 and a staff strength of 31.

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