A CENTRE for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, has been inaugurated at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.
The objectives of the project include providing advanced education capacity in disability and rehabilitation in Ghana for health professionals and other identified actors for the prevention and response to all disabled persons, creating research and development capacity in the field of disability and rehabilitation, and providing a national database on disability.
The centre, the first of its kind in West Africa, whose establishment was sponsored by the Netherlands Organisation for International Co-operation in Higher Education (NUFFIC), is a major output of the School of Medical Sciences (SMS) disability project.
With the establishment of the centre, KNUST can comfortably offer admission to most of the persons with disability whose desire of pursuing academic programmes in the university had been a mirage.
At the inaugural ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor of KNUST, Prof. W.O. Ellis, said it was gratifying in the life of the university to be blessed with the centre.
“KNUST will through this centre contribute its quota to the call by the United Nations to mainstream disability in the Millennium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond,” he said.
Prof. Ellis added that the project would also help the university brace itself with the challenge of gradually transforming into a disability-friendly institution.
He stated that the centre would establish a strong network with identified professionals in the field of disability, disabled people’s organisations and international NGOs with the view to advancing the potentials of the disabled.
Prof. Ellis said an M.Sc. programme in Disability Studies was in place at the university, and the B.Sc. curriculum had been approved ready for consideration by the academic board of the university and the National Accreditation Board.
The Vice-Chancellor said as part of the project, five Ph.D. and five M.Sc. fellowships were provided for staff development.
In that regard, he commended the university’s partners for their tremendous support.
Prof. Ellis stated that the establishment of the centre was part of efforts to reposition KNUST as a global institution of excellence in science and technology, focusing on the development of the nation and its people.
The Director of International Programmes at Hogeschool Leiden in The Netherlands, Sir Dominique Hoozemans, said the school was proud to be associated with the project.
He said going into the project meant the partners were ready to offer support to the needy to live meaningful lives.
The President of the Ghana Association of the Disabled, Mr Joseph Adu Boampong, commended the project managers for actively involving the association in the entire project.
He said many of their members were facing difficulties in accessing higher education as a result of the physical development of structures at the campuses of institutions in the country.