We met Charles on an overcast day in the Eastern Region of Ghana. In the excerpt below he describes the source of his disability and challenges of education for disabled children:
“I am almost fifty-nine years old. My disability started when I was young, according to my mother I was three years old. She said she injected me and it caused polio. When you are a child, you don’t feel that you are (disabled) because you used to play with all, especially kids. But when my friends started to leave for school, that is when I started to realize, oh, no. Something is short in my life. I studied elementary and middle school in my hometown.
My biggest concern was that…I wrote common entrance exams, I think 1976 I passed very well to go to school but because of my disability… When they sent me there all the buildings were storey and I couldn’t climb so that prevented me from going to school at that time. Also, all my friends I started with, when they finish school they will leave for higher education. So the number of people I was playing with reduced, because they all went and I was left alone. My education was a great concern to me. After I came out of school, in 1977 I learned shoemaking … I started doing it for some money.
Then I had everything to go to teacher training college. I went to training college 1987. When I was looking for admission to enter training college, the principal told me she will not accept me. Why? Because some disables came there, the way they were misbehaving, it wasn’t possible to sack them, it wasn’t possible to punish them (laughing). In fact this made me to stay home for almost a term, so it was some elders who went and spoke with them that she doesn’t know the kind of person I am. The principal is from my hometown and by the grace of God I made her happy, I didn’t do anything bad.”
Despite the barriers Charles describes above, he graduated from teachers’ college in 1991 and his now employed by a primary school in the Eastern Region.