By Mawusie P.I Dumbuya
Head of Communication
The National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPD) Executive Secretary Saa Kortequee has called for a multi-sectoral approach in the educational system to solve the challenging predicament faced by persons with disabilities (PWDs). His thoughts were expressed at the just concluded 5 days Annual Education Summit hosted by the Ministries of Basic and Secondary and Tertiary Education at Buntumani hotel in Freetown on 10th December, 2020.
Presenting on the topic Education is a Right, Saa Kortequee said to ensure quality education for children with disabilities government and it partners should promote accessible and inclusive learning spaces, invest in teachers’ training for inclusive education, take multi-sectoral approach promote disability sensitization in schools and inclusive budgeting and procurement for teaching and learning materials for PWDs, “multi-sectoral approach will help to bridge the huge divide affecting PWDs in the educational sector” he stressed.
NCPD scribe revealed that the Government of Sierra Leone has made significant gains in realizing the rights to education for persons with disabilities such as free education at both
primary and tertiary levels.
He however maintained that, there is still gap between policy and practice “for instance, the Education Act Section 4 (10) states that there should be educational stipends for students with disabilities that are in tertiary institutions but they are not benefiting from that kind of support and there is still challenge with inadequate and untimely payment of subventions to the special needs schools across the country” he observed.
He called on the the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education to review their syllabus more especially in the area excluding pupils with visual impairment from Mathematics, Oral English for the hearing impairment and
Flexible examination times for persons with disabilities.
Highlighting some of the other challenges encountered by PWDs Saa Kortequee furthered that some school authorities still refusing to enroll children with disabilities and Inaccessibility to most learning facilities and premises especially at tertiary levels “some are even not adhering to provisions in the Persons with Disability Act more especially sectors 14, 15 and 16”.
He concluded that to ensure continuous improvement of the knowledge base for monitoring of SDG 4 on education and in particular the ‘Radical Inclusion Philosophy’, both Education Ministries should include disability as a standard dimension into its processes and programs.