Mr Timothy Nakoja, father of a 14 year old boy with cerebral palsy has said his family is forced to lock up his soon indoors to enable them to work and earn a living.
He said that this was not so much a choice or a matter of cruel treatment, but a response to the fact that there was no formal support in sight and that poverty had to be dealt with:
“We have tried countless times to get the boy admitted into school but to no avail, we are left with no option than to lock him up in a room while we go and earn a living on a daily basis.”
Mr Nakoja was speaking in an interview with the media on the need for government to effectively implement the Inclusive Education Policy in Ghana.
“We were advised by a neurologist to send the boy to the mainstream school since it could facilitate his speech, but we have been unsuccessful. First we tried some private primary schools in our area, but they all rejected him, then we went to try at the Government school in our locality and they refused him admission,” he lamented.
Mr Nakoja said he had been to the Special Education Unit to talk with them on the issue only to meet outright rejection:
“We were referred to the National Resource centre where our son Eliezer was assessed and taken through a psychological test, we were then given a letter to go to Battor Special school, but the school refused him admission on the basis that he was not toilet trained.”
Excuses were many including from private facilities:
“We have been to the Dzorwulu Special School on five occasions, we have been to Hohoe Special School, we have been to a Special School in the North, we have tried some private special schools, but they all give the same excuse, we do not have enough workers and cannot handle your child”
Mr Nakoja said his son who started walking at the age of eight, can neither speak nor use his hands to feed himself. The frequent refusal to admit him had been attributed to the fact that he was not toilet trained and inability to speak, reasons that have become tired:
“Nobody wants to deal with cleaning toilet on a daily basis, but he is a Ghanaian and has a right to education, I wish government could do something about this situation.”
Mr Nakoja said he himself had developed a spinal problem because he was forced to carry the boy all the time:
“I am unable to sit for long hours and it is very difficult to carry him around hence the decision to lock him up in a room while I go and earn a living.”
He called on the government to recruit care-givers especially in government schools and in the special schools to enable them to work with children who have cerebral palsy.
“Children with cerebral palsy are also citizens of Ghana, they have a right to education and quality life, we need schools and centres that admit these children to at least enable parents to work.”
He went on to add that many parents are forced to abandon their career because they have children with cerebral palsy.