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Group wants Dyslexia training made mandatory for teachers in Ghana

BY: Isaac Yeboah

The Africa Dyslexia Organization (ADO), has called on the government to make it mandatory for teacher training colleges to incorporate dyslexia training in their curriculum.

The step will help teachers especially at the basic levels of the educational system to receive the needed training to equip and empower them to help pupils who suffer dyslexia or other forms of learning disabilities.

Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by difficulty in processing, producing and using language, and its sufferers find it extremely hard to express their language skills, including reading, writing, spelling and speaking, according to Rosalin Abigail Kyere-Nartey, a Dyslexic & Founder of African Dyslexia Organization (ADO), the non-profit organization focusing efforts on providing help for dyslexic.

October is recognised as Dyslexic Awareness Month, and the group says the condition deserves better attention than is being paid it in Ghana.

According to her, over 10% of Ghanaians have dyslexia, and incorporating training on the disability in the curricula of colleges will equip trainee teachers with the required education and empower them to support all students with varying learning needs.

Drawing attention to the challenge in a write-up calling for a national focus on the condition, Rosalin Abigail Kyere-Nartey said recent research studies by two Ghanaian researchers have revealed that a greater percentage of Ghanaian teachers have average knowledge and awareness on dyslexia as well as any form of available support services for children with learning difficulties.

“The findings of these studies show that Ghanaian teachers need to get proper professional training on learning disorders, especially dyslexia”, she emphasized.

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Citing a report by Dyslexia Ghana which says that of the population of Ghanaians suffering dyslexia, 4% of them suffer its severe forms, she said many Ghanaians, including parents and teachers are not aware of this learning disability hence are unable to offer any form of support to dyslexics where necessary.

“As a result of this, dyslexic children of school going age are faced with the challenge of not receiving the needed attention and assistance to do well in their learning. These dyslexic children therefore often go through emotional and mental health challenges in class as they are labelled by teachers and classmates as dumb and lazy learners.

“According to Dyslexia Fact Sheet (2008), Dyslexia is essentially a disorder of phoneme processing: feasibly in visual and hearing. The condition predisposes dyslexics to see and hear things differently. Dyslexics therefore only process information and learn things differently, hence being dyslexic is not synonymous to being unintelligent.

“Dyslexics do not lack intelligence or the desire to learn, they are only differently intelligent and learn differently as well. When dyslexics are taught by teachers using the appropriate learning methods, they will enjoy and experience learning successfully.

“In this month of Dyslexia Awareness, we deem it important to let Ghanaians know that there are a group of learners in every class who are unable to read, write or spell because of dyslexia and these learners deserve some attention too. We cannot have an inclusive educational system where some learners are neglected due to a condition they have no control over. It is only fair that we give each learner a fair chance to advance in their learning regardless of their condition.”

Abigail Kyere-Nartey also called for reduced class sizes to afford teachers adequate time pay particular attention to learners with dyslexia.

“At the national level, we currently have only one training centre in the country’s capital city, Accra. And it is unfortunate to know that this centre is in a deplorable state needing some retooling and resourcing. It is about time the government of Ghana took interest in this and channel resources into creating a befitting centre for learners in all sixteen regions of the country. The establishment of such learning centres will help in the screening and identification of students with dyslexia. It will also help in getting such students the needed available support services, so they get to make the most of their learning experiences”, she said.