An official of the Ministry of Education, Mohamed Konneh, says since the establishment of the Division of Special and Inclusive Education, its ability to deliver services to persons with disabilities had stagnated. This, according to him, is because of the apparent lack of interest and zero budgetary allocation.
Mr. Konneh – Director of Special and Inclusive Education at the Minister of Education, said that the situation, including the exclusion of the division in the Ministry of Education Operational Policies and Training Programs, existed until recently.
Mr. Konneh made the statement last weekend at the S.T. Nagbe United Methodist Church during a joint worship organized by the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with Handicap International on Inclusive Education.
He said the lack of a National Policy on Special and Inclusive Education to guide and direct all stakeholders providing services to persons with special needs in Liberia has compounded the already challenging objective of addressing the learning needs of the most vulnerable and socially excluded student population that are in the tens of thousands in Liberia.
According to him, this is making it difficult to increase access to education opportunities for the large number of special needs children and youth in Liberia following years of devastating conflicts. Speaking on the Topic “Barriers to Education for Children with “disabilities in Liberia”, Mr. Konneh stressed that in most rural communities, the conditions in which some of children enter various schools are very challenging, adding that approximately 80% of the schools were completely destroyed.
He noted that rebuilt facilities still lack basic facilities like toilets, ramps and/or handrail, indicating that some schools do not have the accurate amount of desks or books for the students – something, he claimed, leaves many students sitting on the floor or sharing books with peers.
“Until recently, the lack of financial interventions by institutions in the rural areas have led to teachers leaving classrooms, for sometimes up to a week, to receive their paychecks – this leaves many classrooms without teachers,” Mr. Konneh Noted.
He further said that many schools lack trained teachers to deliver quality education and the rote learning style, indicating that many teachers employed, leave children with diverse learning style out in the cold. “In addition, there’s no teacher training programs for inclusive education. Societal stigma leaves many children with, even the mildest disabilities, such as a hearing impairment or physical disability, out of school. All of these challenges do not only affect children with disabilities, but all children,” he pointed out.
By Bridgett Milton – Edited by George Barpeen