AS PART OF effort to improve the nation’s educational system, the Ministry of Education and Handicap International held Inclusive Education Conference recently in Monrovia. The conference was convened in the wake of mounting concerns about state of the nation’s education, something that was once described by President Sirleaf as “a mess.”
SHORTLY UPON TAKING over the affairs of the Ministry, Minister George Werner acknowledged the problems facing the educational system and promised to move it from “Mess to Best.” Since he assumed the office, there have been activities to identify some of the many problems to bring relief to the system.
IT IS IN line with this that the conference was held last week, during which time the Director,Office of Special and Inclusive Education Division at the Ministry of Education, Mr. Mohamed Konneh revealed that many schools in the country lack trained teachers to cater to people with disabilities.
ACCORDING TO HIM, since the establishment of the division of special and Inclusive Education, its ability to deliver services to persons with disabilities had stagnated because of apparent lack of interest, zero budgetary allocation. He said one of the biggest barriers to education for children with disabilities remains societal stigma and social exclusion of the population and children are routinely denied access to basic education because of the beliefs that some disabilities are acquired through a curse or witchcraft.
HE NOTED THAT most recent census states that there are about 11,000 students with disabilities in public schools and there are no programs to train teachers for best instructional practices in education for children with disabilities. Mr. Konneh said that there is no teacher training program for inclusive education and societal stigma leaves many children with disabilities, such as a hearing impairment or physical disability out of school.
ACCORDING TO THE Education Ministry official, 11,000 students with disabilities in public schools, there are no programs to train teachers for best instructional practices in education for children with disabilities. This, we believe should urgently claim the government’s attention to consider some budgetary allocations for the training of teachers for children with disabilities.
WHILE THANKING THE Ministry for its efforts to identify these problems and lapses in the educational system, this should not be a mere charade, but should be followed by concrete actions to move the system from “MESS TO BEST”.