Voice Ghana Ramp Default 20120807161453 Resized WEBThanks to a project made possible by the STAR-Ghana program, 72 school buildings in Ghana’s Volta Region will soon have wheelchair ramps, allowing children with disabilities to reach their classrooms more easily.

Ghana’s 2006 Persons with Disability Act obliges the Ministry of Education to designate schools that would provide equipment and facilities for disabled children and the Government to provide free education and special schools for those unable to attend formal schools. However, implementation of the law has been poor and many disabled children continue to be excluded from any kind of schooling.  

In 2011, Voice Ghana, an NGO based in Ghana’s Ho Municipality, received a grant to advocate for the implementation of the 2006 law, and in particular of the sections requiring the provision of disabled access facilities in public places.  

The grant was awarded through the education funding window of the multi-donor Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana (STAR-Ghana) program, run by Coffey International Development and its partners. STAR-Ghana is funding 21 projects aimed at improving access to and standards of basic education in Ghana, where, despite significant investment in education, inequity in resource allocation has meant that a large portion of the poor and disadvantaged have remained out of reach from quality education.  

Funded projects range from those like Voice Ghana’s, which help make schools more inclusive of special needs students, to ones focused on improving teacher quality, advancing greater equity in the allocation of educational resources and advocating for education policies that support the delivery of quality education to all children.

With STAR-Ghana’s support, Voice Ghana carried out an audit of 216 schools in the municipality and found that 94% of them had no provision of access for the disabled.  The NGO then engaged with multiple stakeholders, including local media, to establish dialogue and advocate for disability-friendly schools.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Voice Ghana and the Ho Municipal Assembly, local government agencies and other stakeholders, committing them to fulfilling the Persons with Disability Act in Ho Municipality by 2016.  Because of this advocacy, contractors working on government-funded school projects were directed to provide one access ramp for every two steps of the structures they were building.  

Twelve new school buildings, for which access ramps had not been planned, now have ramps in place.  There are plans for ramps to be added to another 60 buildings once the structures are complete.

Additionally, some mission schools, churches, community groups and a member of parliament have committed to making existing school and health facilities disability-friendly and are arranging bags of cement for the construction of access ramps in their localities.

In addition to funding projects aimed at improving access to and quality of education, STAR-Ghana is currently supporting projects aimed at ensuring fair and peaceful elections in 2012. Read more about STAR-Ghana's work.

Photo: An access ramp built in a junior high school, thanks to Voice Ghana’s advocacy