Beatrice is the Disability and Inclusion Advisor for the Strategic Approaches to Girls’ Education (STAGE) project in Ghana, which is managed by World Education Inc as part of the Girls’ Education Challenge.
Beatrice has had a visual impairment since childhood. However, she has proved that ‘disability is not inability’ and is now working to support and inspire highly marginalised girls, including those with disabilities, to get an education.
STAGE enrolls girls, aged 10 to 19 in an Accelerated Learning Programme that equips them with literacy, numeracy and life skills, followed by reintegration into school or vocational training. In total, the programme will reach 17,244 out-of-school girls, 10% of whom have disabilities, in nine regions between 2018 and 2023.
Growing up as a child, Beatrice dropped out of Trede LA Basic School in the Ashanti region of Ghana because her teacher discovered in class that she was visually impaired. She was then enrolled at Wa Methodist School for the Blind and subsequently went on to Wenchi Senior High School, University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, with the support of her family and the Marist Brothers Formation.
Throughout her basic school education, she saw other children and teachers with the same condition, so she was highly motivated and determined that one day she would be like them. Climbing the educational ladder was quite challenging because her parents could not afford to provide her with teaching and learning materials and transportation. Beatrice used to walk barefoot most of the time to and from school. She used to sell food, drink, mobile phone cards and jewelry in the school to take care of herself and her fees at the university. Educational materials available to her were not in appropriate formats and so were less accessible. Most teachers lacked the skills and knowledge to use inclusive teaching and learning techniques and sometimes got frustrated when she made requests, which was often followed with verbal abuse.
Despite these challenges, Beatrice made it to tertiary level education with distinction.
Access to employment opportunities was another battle. Some employers who got to know she had a disability shut their doors to her. She had had to write several applications and go through several interviews to secure a job.
Today, with determination, hard work, and support from family and philanthropies, Beatrice is making a huge impact on her community and proudly acknowledges her disability. She has a beautiful family, is in full time employment and is a valued member of her team. The challenges she has faced have motivated her to establish an organisation to promote the inclusion of women and children with disabilities.
It is for Beatrice and many more people with disabilities in the hard-to-reach communities in Ghana that World Education Inc. Ghana celebrated this year's international day for persons with disabilities on the theme “shaping an inclusive future for all, leadership with determination”. STAGE firmly believes that no girl should be denied her legal right to an education. The programme ensures that girls with disabilities and their families are provided with educational options that are responsive to girls’ and their families’ educational wants, needs and aspirations.