The Jachie Training Centre for the Disabled located in the Bosomtwe District of the Ashanti region has been left to its fate three decades after it was set up.
The centre which was built by some Norwegians in the year 1986 is one of the few institutions established to train persons with disability in crafts.
But the centre is unable to serve its purpose fully because of lack of government attention and the inability of the school to sell its wares to generate internal funds.
The environment in the school is serene and very natural. It finds itself in the entrance of a vast greenery of trees with workshops, offices and shady designated working areas.
But one striking history of this welcoming school is saddening. The Norwegian founders who felt the need to help Ghanaian people with disabilities were only allocated a place in an evil forest. – Tells volumes about the level of discrimination and traditional taboos against the disabled in Ghanaian communities.
A volunteer who has taken it upon herself to draw attention to the plight of the school, Linda Adjoa Adomako offered to take me around this centre.
Our first stop was a carpentry department where I met Daniel Agbee, the head of wood works.
He is deaf but could read my lips as I tried to pick up an interaction with him.
He told me, “I have been here for more than 15 years. I attended the Bechem School for the deaf and I attended the Kumasi Polytechnic. After school I returned here to teach deaf people. I also work as a carpenter, I am a plumber and i can also do plumbing and other maintenance works in the school.”
The disability training centre also has a tailoring section training thirteen ladies and one youngman all with physical disabilities. They are trained to sew all kinds of things from clothing, school uniforms to curtains and other knitted apparel.
At the weaving centre, there are stacks of well woven broad loom Kente packed in bags obviously because no one has been here to buy them.
The teacher here told Ultimate News the students can weave very complex designs including weaving portraits of people’s pictures into their products.
“Our greatest advantage in weaving here is that, you just bring your picture and then it is woven into the cloth quite similar to the original picture,” he said.
The school also has a vibrant carpentry section where house hold and office furniture is manufactured at unbeatable prices.
The project director of the centre Johnson Nyamekye told Ultimate News the school in some time past was receiving orders to even produce acoustic guitars.
“Formerly, we used acoustic guitars but now the concentration has been reduced to teaching aid equipment and other decorative furniture including stuffing chairs and wardrobes.
That’s not all; there is a section for the manufacture of footwear. These shoe makers are able to sit in the comfort of their wheel chairs to make sandals and shoes comparable to any quality shoes on the market.
The Jachie Training Centre for the Disabled can boast of once getting orders to produce shoes and giving some out to their students to sell in their communities during vacations.
The training centre however has challenges. The School has a male and female dormitory facility which can take fifty students each. It however currently has only 38 borders and 10 day students.
Project Director and acting accountant Johnson Nyamekye told Ultimate News’ Ivan Heathcote – Fumador the school has been compelled to charge school fees from the disabled who come from deprived homes because government subventions are insufficient.
This situation the director complains has caused several of them to stop schooling.
“The government assistance covers only salaries. We used to have twenty five staff but due to retirement, the number has now reduced to eighteen. So we now have to charge a subsidy for feeding the students and now we do charge two hundred and seventy cedis for the duration of three months. This has compelled most of the students to remain in their houses because their parents find it very difficult to pay for them,” he lamented.
The store keeper of the school also pointed out that the school has no outlet to sell their wares to generate funds to run the institution as their only store which was located at the Central Business District in the Ashanti regional capital Kumasi in Adum, was destroyed in one of the demolition and decongestion exercises of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly.
The Director of the Bosomtwe District Chapter of the Ghana Federation for the Disabled, Maxwell John Kwabena Boakye is however hopeful in the mist of these challenges. He believes there is enough justification to demand support for the training of persons with disability in the country in order that they do not become a burden to society.
“Most of them have acquired the skills and they need sponsorship to enable them establish on their own. There are a lot of them who roam about and some of them also need retraining because the training they have received is not up to standard. We have to get them financial support because sometimes the parents are not able to pay even the token of their school fees that is just for feeding and most of them have ended up on the roadside begging,” Mr Kwabena Boakye beckoned.
But as we drove off the campus of the Jachie Training Centre for the Disabled, one thought resonated in my mind. How potential is being wasted in this establishment and how just a little push, a little investment and a little exposure could expand the commercial potential of this training facility for persons with disability.
By: Ghana/Ultimatefmonline.com/106.9FM/Ivan Heathcote-Fumador