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Inadequate Literacy Support for Children With Special Needs In Cameroon: A Social Injustice by Rose Ntube Ngole

Inadequate Literacy Support for Children with Special Needs in Cameroon: A Social Injustice by Rose Ntube Ngole

Children with exceptional needs are likely to comprise the most socially neglected and excluded populations in the world today. Though education is known to bring about lasting positive change in society, many children in developing countries, especially those with special needs are deprived of basic quality education.
According to Articles 23 and 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,
(1) States parties must recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life…
(2) State parties recognized the right of the disabled child to special care.
(24-f) States parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children (A World Fit for Children-UNICEF).
Also, in the Children’s Forum at the 2002 UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Children, children are entitled to:
- equal opportunities and access to quality education that is free and compulsory,
- School environments in which children feel happy about learning.
In view of the preceding provisions, the leaders of most developing countries, especially Cameroon, have failed their most vulnerable populations: individuals with special needs, especially women and children. These populations have been subjected to social injustice for a very long time.

Rights at Stake
-Majority of these individuals do not have access to basic or specialized education and training.
-They are not being provided with basic services and support such as assistive devices to improve the quality of their lives.
- Most children with disabilities in developing countries, particularly Cameroon are stigmatized by witchcraft. Some are treated as outcasts, and many have died through sacrificial killings.
- The rights of women have been trampled upon, especially mothers who are often blamed for bringing children with disabilities into the world.
- Women and girls who are mentally retarded or have some other form of disability are known to have been raped and impregnated because of such disability.

We Can Make a Difference
We cannot afford to continue to fold our arms and watch these precious women and children violated, humiliated, tortured and killed for no just cause.
We cannot continue to allow national policy to remain silent on special education when the talents of these vulnerable children remain untapped. It is critical for us today to make a commitment to their improvement by:
-no longer remaining silent
- advocating effective educational policies that guarantee access to specialized education, training and resources for children with special needs and for their family members.
- organizing a campaign aimed at sensitizing the community on the importance of educating children with disabilities and bringing specialized education to the people through teaching and advocacy
- improving the lives of children with special needs through education, care and advocacy.
-encouraging and fostering international cooperation, communication, collaboration, and research in special education.
-being advocates to debunk the social, traditional, religious beliefs and stereotypes that “disability is a curse from God.”
-working with grass roots organizations, traditional and religious rulers and women groups to raise awareness about support for issues affecting individuals with disabilities, especially children.
-advocating for the building of specialized schools and training of Para educational staff to serve these neglected group of children.
The greatest problems affecting the lives of children with disabilities in Cameroon are not only the issue of the social stigma, but that of the lack of awareness and human capacity to educate these children to the maximum extent possible; And also, the lack of international cooperation, communication, collaboration and research in the area of special education.
In 2008, the American Association of University Women Foundation (AAUW) opened the door of opportunity for me in the field of special education and educational leadership as one of its International fellows. Through their fellowship and the training I received from Howard University School of Education in Washington DC, I have gained valuable skills needed to help to improve and change the school system in Cameroon.
Through my training, I have become conversant with policies and services that affect the lives of exceptional children. I have decided that if I could be anything in life, I will be an educator and advocate for specialized education and training to enhance the lives of this underserved population in Cameroon. My hope is that my efforts will help teach people the power one person can have -- that if "they see something that needs to be changed; they know they can make a difference."
I will like us to work together to make sure children with exceptional needs have all the opportunities to maximize their potentials. I believe together we can make things happen. Together, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS IN CAMEROON-ONE CHILD AT A TIME.
Thank you for being part of this venture, and part of this fight.

Rose Ntube Ngole
AAUW Foundation 2008/9 International fellow
Washington DC.

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