Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Della Sowah on Thursday launched the Ghana Literacy Training Programme for the hearing impaired with a call on people to stop marginalizing persons with disabilities.
She said persons with disabilities should be given a chance in society because there is so much they can do to contribute to the development of the country.
“Disability doesn’t mean the person is hopeless and can’t contribute meaningfully to society,” she stressed.
Under the literacy project, the hearing impaired would be trained on how to read and write Basic English.
Mrs. Sowah who is also the Member of Parliament for Kpando said the Ministry is working to ensure that persons with disability earn a decent living. The Ministry, she added, is therefore making social protection more effective by targeting the poor and vulnerable to reduce poverty.
“On the job market we are setting up a data base beginning with persons with disability; this will facilitate the employment of persons with disability,” she stated.
The Deputy Minister therefore described the literacy programme as timely and essential to empower the deaf in the society.
“The complementary effort by the International Network for Deaf Empowerment in partnership with Christian Literacy Associate and Deaf Mission to reduce the rate of illiteracy among the deaf is highly commendable, and I wish to congratulate you on this laudable initiative.
“Our ministry is very concerned about people with hearing difficulties and last year together with the Starkey Hearing Foundation provided 2100 persons with hearing difficulties with hearing aids to enable them communicate better…the importance of this project to improve the literacy rate of people with hearing challenges cannot be overemphasized.”
She said since the literacy programme would be decentralized, the district Social Welfare Centres would be duly informed to effectively participate in the training.
Mrs. Sowah described as “unfortunate” the public notion that once an NGO is doing something it means Government is doing nothing, stressing “Government appreciates the work of NGOs and will do everything to assist them to complement government efforts.
She added that it was imperative that Government and NGOs see each other as partners to improve the lives of our people”.
Touching on the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), Mrs. Sowah remarked that the social intervention programme has proven effective in easing the suffering of people especially the physically challenged. Under the LEAP a total of 89,610 beneficiary households have been supported out of the 90785 households estimated, she said.
Mr. Francis Botchwey, Executive Director of International Network for Deaf Empowerment (INDE), said the network’s vision is to create a literate and self-sufficient deaf society in a mutually respectable world.
“We at the Network are highly hopeful this Project will minimize, if not completely eliminate illiteracy among the deaf in Ghana. We believe this will in turn open working avenues for them in both the formal and non-formal sectors as well as giving them the ability to effectively communicate with the hearing.”
Even though the Project will fully take off in the second quarter of 2015, INDF together with its partners hopes to enroll at least 1,000 deaf persons nationwide this year.
“We would like to take this opportunity to invite Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as religious groups, communities and civil society to actively be part of this programme and nominate personnel for training.
“Likewise, the International Network for Deaf Empowerment would humbly call on benevolent organisations and individual philanthropists to support this great Project to empower our deaf society in kind or cash.”
Mr. Alex Tetteh, Executive Director of the Centre for the Employment of Persons with Disability, said among persons with disability, the deaf are most marginalized because everything we do as a country benefits the hearing enabled and little is done for those who are deaf.
“Deaf persons are cut off from most of the development resources for our country,” he observed.
Mr. Tetteh said though the nation is one year short of the 10 years deadline for all public buildings to be accessible to all persons with disability since the Disability Act 2006 was enacted Ghana still has a long way to go in achieving the target.
However, Mrs. Della Sowah assured that the Ministry is going to make sure that the grace period is over and all public buildings are compliance for persons with disability.
Rev. Michael Tetteh, Director Christian Literacy Associates and Deaf Mission Ghana, giving overview of the course book for the training said, the ‘ABC Loot at Me Reading’ incorporate the works of several educators in different fields.
Rev. Michael Tetteh
He said the Christian Literacy and INDE have common objectives of promoting and distributing deaf materials, promotion of literacy learning the centres.
“We and our partner International Network for Deaf Empowerment have a plan to assist the deaf people to improve their living all the way through orienting them with acquisition of skills…we invite all to come on board to promote deaf and less privileged persons”.
Mr. Nathan Teku, a representative from Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service, said the Division has since the advent of deaf education in Ghana about 57 years ago, it has encountered a number of challenges, citing the lack of deaf communication books as an example.
“It is a pity that the deaf are often overlooked in the formulation of national policies,” he underscored.
“It is gladdening news that the INDE is taking a bolder step in solving the problem that has been bedeviling the deaf child now by means of learning, reading literacy. This is what we expect of any well-meaning organization.”
Mr. Julius Akuaku, Communications Officer of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf, the umbrella body of all the deaf associations in Ghana, said the Association is proud of the initiative and encouraged all to be part of the programme.
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