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Prioritise education of children with disability - Efua Bedwei

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi

Ghanaian software engineer, Ms. Farida Nana Efua Bedwei, has called on the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to identify a school in every district of the country and make it disability friendly so that children with disability can go to school.

She said it was worrying that many children with disability could not attend school due to how the country's school system had been designed, leaving those with disability out.

She said on many occasions, she could not recommend people with disability for job opportunities due to the fact that they had not gone to school to enable them acquire the needed qualifications. 

Ms. Bedwei made the appeal when she spoke at the Ghana National Gas Company’s (GNGC) event to mark this year’s United Nations’ International Day of Persons With Disability at the company’s premises on Monday, December 5, 2022.

Ghana Gas holds event to mark this year's International Day of Persons With Disability

The event, which was on the theme: “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: The role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world” brought together various key stakeholders, including persons with disability.

Disability Day

The United Nations’ International Day of Persons With Disability is about promoting the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities at every level of society and development, and to raise awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of political, social, economic, and cultural life.

Ms. Bedwei, who is also a co-founder of Logiciel, a fin-tech company in Ghana, expressed the concern that persons with disability had been left behind because their needs had not been prioritised by any government in the country.

Ghana Gas holds event to mark this year's International Day of Persons With Disability

"The people with disability have been left behind," she said, adding "We (people with disability) have never been a priority and I don’t know when that is going to change."

She again expressed the concern that people tend to discriminate against persons with disability, stressing "I don’t see why we should be discriminated against."

Ms. Bedwei said it was about time government stopped “paying lip service” to the needs of persons with disability and worked to improve their lives so that they could live descent lives and take care of their families instead of becoming burdens on their families.

Ghana Gas holds event to mark this year's International Day of Persons With Disability

“It’s better to make persons with disability capable of looking after themselves and not giving donations to them, which can’t sustain their lives,” she noted. 

She, therefore, commended Ghana Gas for marking the day to create more awareness about the plight of persons with disability in the country as well as creating an atmosphere of inclusivity at the company.

Reforms

The Chief Executive Officer of GNGC, Dr Ben Asante, said as part of the company’s measures to ensure inclusiveness, the company had asked its Human Resource unit to amend the company's policies to reflect the needs of persons with disability.

For him, it is important to create an inclusive environment where persons with disability would feel safe to work at workplaces.

"We all need to create environment of inclusiveness both outside and inside our workplaces," he said, urging people to discard misconceptions they have about persons with disability.

Dr Ben Asante speaking at the event

"When you finish first, you glorify an individual but when you finish together, you glorify a nation," Dr Asante remarked, stressing that Ghana Gas Company had made all their facilities disability friendly to cater for the peculiar needs of their staff with disability.

He pledged the commitment of the company to create opportunities for persons with disability in the company. 

Gratitude

A staff of the company who is visually impaired, Mr Isaac Ansah, in a brief remarks thanked the management of the company for their drive to give opportunities to persons with disability in the company.

For him, it is worrying to refer to persons with disability with their illness or disability instead of calling them by their names, saying disability inclusiveness is central to upholding human rights in any society.

He called on other public institutions to emulate the example of Ghana Gas Company to amend their human resource policies to reflect the needs of PWDs.

For his part, the Oti Regional Minister, Dr. Joshua Gmayenaam Makubu, admonished people to be reflective on how they treat persons with disability at workplaces.

He also called on all private and public institutions to mark the International Day for disability to create awareness about the needs of persons with disability.