Teachers in Winneba Sensitised on Handling Special Needs Children

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Campaign for Learning Disabilities (CLED) with the motive of supporting students with special needs in collaboration with Department of Special Education (SPED) has organised a two-day training workshop for staff of Ghana Education Service (GES) and some selected teachers in the Effutu Municipality.

A cross-section of participants who were present at the two day training workshop

The two-day workshop which took place from Tuesday, 10th to Wednesday, 11th July, 2018 at the Zion ‘D’ School in Winneba aimed at sensitising teachers to handle students with special needs in their classes fairly and aptly.     

In her presentation at the opening of the two-day workshop on “Universal Design for Learning (UDL)”, Fulbright Scholar, Prof. Tiece Ruffin said “UDL is a framework for teaching and learning that includes proactive planning of curricula (goals, assessments, methods, and materials) and emphasises access, variety, choice, multiple opportunities and flexibility as learners learn in ways that are suitable for them”.

Fulbright Scholar, Prof. Tiece Ruffin in a demonstration during the training

Prof. Tiece Ruffin said that in order to build purposeful, motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic and goal-directed learners, teachers ought to incorporate UDL in their teaching techniques. She noted that it helps to eliminate barriers to learning in order to increase students’ achievement. Another major goal of UDL she hinted is that it gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn.   

The Fulbright Scholar recounted that another popular method that encourages students to think critically about definitions to determine characteristics, non-critical characteristics, examples and non-examples was the Frayer Model Map. Making reference to Katie Novak, she said it was imperative that all teachers clarify vocabulary and symbols for students’ critical thinking ability and reading comprehension to improve.

Presenting on the topic “Accommodations for Inclusive Education”, Dr. Anthony Kofi Mensah, a Senior Lecturer (SPED) defined accommodation as a change made to the teaching or testing procedures in order to provide a student with access to information and to create an equal opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and skills.

“Accommodations do not change the instructional level, content or performance criteria for meeting standards. Examples of accommodations include enlarging the print, providing oral versions of texts and using calculators.” He said.  

Dr. Mensah indicated that the Inclusive Education Policy in Ghana defined inclusion as “ensuring access and learning for all children; especially those disadvantaged from linguistic, ethnic, gender, geographic or religious minority, from an economically impoverished background as well as children with special needs including those with disabilities”.

He stressed that learners with special educational needs are learners beyond those who may be listed as having a disability and children who fail in school because they experience barriers that prevent them from achieving optimal progress in their learning and development. For that reason, he urged GES and stakeholders to make classrooms inclusive and convey respect as well as ensure that teachers implement the ‘accommodations’ method of teaching. 

Mrs. Florence Akua Mensah, Lecturer and Coordinator (EID) in a presentation at the training workshop

There were presentations on the second day of the workshop by the Head of Department, SPED, Dr. Yao E. Yekple and the Coordinator, Unit for the Education of Children with Intellectual Disabilities (EID), Mrs. Florence Akua Mensah on the topics “Managing Children with Autism” and “Learning Disabilities and its Management” respectively.

From far right, CEO of CLED-Mr. Padmore Quansah, Head of SPED-Mr. Yao E. Yekple, Municipal Director of Education-Ms. Rose Tenkorang and Senior Lecturer (SPED), Dr. Anthony Mensah

Among the dignitaries and participants present at the opening day of the workshop were the Effutu Municipal Director of Education, Ms. Rose Tenkorang; Chief Executive Officer, CLED, Mr. Padmore Quansah; CLED volunteers and some selected teachers in the Winneba Metropolis.

A group photograph of participants after the workshop