UNICEF advocates for inclusive Ghanaian society

UNThe United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ghana on Wednesday called for an inclusive society that recognised the needs of children with disabilities and remove barriers that hindered them from reaching their full potentials.

Ms Susan Namondi Ngongi, Country Representative of UNICEF Ghana, at the launch of the 2013 State of the World’s Children’s Report, said data from the 2010 National Population Census showed that children living with disabilities made up 20 percent of the total population of persons living with disabilities.

“In real numbers they are over 80,000 children. These children compared to their counterparts without disabilities constitute the largest number of children who do not attend school,” she said.

The launch of the report was also marked with an exhibition of photographs depicting the personalities of 23 children living with disabilities.

While commending the government for ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons Living with Disabilities, Ms Ngongi said there was the need for government to show the commitment to improve the situation of vulnerable groups in the society and to do more in helping all children irrespective of their ability or disability to reach their full potential.

She said UNICEF recognised children first before their disability and called for a concerted effort by communities, NGOs and civil society to help children with disabilities live their dreams.

Ms Ngongi further called on the government to consider interventions such as enrolment campaigns as well as the School for Life Programme, saying “Our success only counts when all these children have been given a chance to be counted and try to become who they are”.

Using four-year old Karen who lost her ability to hear as an example, she said Karen would benefit more in school if her teachers could communicate with her in sign language.

She expressed UNICEF’s commitment to continue partnering the government and other organizations that put the rights of children first.

Ms Ngongi said children with disabilities should not be seen as fundamentally different from others, but rather as children with the ability to become valuable contributors to society.

“We lose as a society when we leave them out,” she said.

Ms Akweley Mawunyo Dokpo, a 12-year-old class three pupil, also called for support, love and protection of the right of children with challenges.

Source: GNA

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