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The UN’s day of Persons with Disability by Dr Felix Nana Kofi Ofori

The UN’s day of Persons with Disability by Dr Felix Nana Kofi Ofori

On 3rd December 2012, the United Nations (UN) launched a global campaign under the theme: “Removing
barriers to create inclusive and accessible society for all”; with the view to sensitise, educate, recognise and promote 

the human rights of persons living with disabilities in every human society.

In a spirit of substance and pragmatism, the UN General Assembly strived to promote the inclusiveness of persons with disability by
sponsoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD);[1] to create effective access to economic
and social provisions toward enhancing the dignity of persons living with disabilities. Thus, accessibility and inclusiveness of persons with
disabilities are fundamental human rights protected by the CRPD as a pre-requisite for the enjoyment of other rights.

Article 9 of the CRPD states as that: “accessibility aims to enable persons with disability to live independently and participate fully in
all facets of life and development.” This provision resonates with the objectives of many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), especially

 REACT Humanitarian Network (REACT)[2]; which is a newly established NGO, aiming to empower persons with disability through the medium

 of education, within the remotest parts of Ghana.

As an NGO, REACT is protecting the worth of Ghanaian disabled children by making education accessible for them
in the most vulnerable communities. REACT achieves its objectives through six main project interventions. These are: School
Feeding Programme, Modification and Reconstruction of school structures to make them accessible for disabled children, Scholarship schemes

 for the most deprived, Medical Rehabilitation to normalise disabilities, organising Community sensitization and awareness schemes, offering

 Logistical support, educational materials, wheel chairs and clothing; as well as collaborating with educational Institutions to enlist  children into centres of learning.

However, there are catalogue of challenges facing most NGOs which undermine their efforts to translate their good intentions and policies into
positive actions to support the UN’s initiative in this regard. For example: lack of resources, lukewarm attitude on the part of national governments,
operational bureaucracies and limited personnel with the requisite skills and knowledge to devise strategies for the organisations to implement policies to
advance the cause of persons with disabilities.

Nonetheless, REACT on this UN day of celebrating the lives and achievement of Persons with disabilities, which also coincides with our
first anniversary celebration, wants to re-assert our firm commitment to work with the UN and other private organisations which are committed to initiating
universal programmes geared to protect the wellbeing of vulnerable disabled children in the Ghanaian society. We will continue to explore and deploy simple
tools which make education easily accessible to the Ghanaian disabled child. We will strive in our commitment by providing a voice for the disabled children
where they have none. It is our hope, that this day will also bring about a resurgent in political will and commitment from third world leaders to promote the educational needs of
society’s most vulnerable. This is because, at REACT, we believe that every disabled child regardless of geographical location or social norm, has
the right to a quality education without stigma. Thus, education constitute a right and not a privilege in the life of all children - as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In the
words of Lindqvist, a formal UN Rapporteur, “…all children with their individual strength and weaknesses have a right to education. It is not
education systems that have a right to certain types of children; rather, it is the school system of a country that must adjust to meet the needs of all children.”[1]

REACT is embarking upon this campaign today, 3rd Day of December 2017, and thereafter, with a positive zeal and determination to impact the lives of Ghanaian Disabled children;
and thereby soliciting the support of all stakeholders to join this noble cause. Affirming the rights of persons with disabilities, the then President of the UN General
Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, stated that: “it is a moral obligation upon all stakeholders to support the inclusion of persons with disabilities beyond the
year 2015 into the future.”[1]
Impliedly, this Resolution is an invitation to all humanity, Inter-governmental organisations, NGOs irrespective of size and stature including REACT, to work
conscientiously and collaboratively to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. This can be done thorough unrestrictive access to
education which is a key transformative instrument capable of empowering, protecting and promoting the human rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

Finally, as the UN celebrates 3rd December 2017 as a day for persons with disabilities, REACT extends a clarion call to all
stakeholders, especially NGOs to renew their zeal to advance the welfare of persons with disabilities.

Dr Felix Nana Kofi Ofori,
Trustee. (REACT Humanitarian Network)

Dr Kofi Ofori is a Human Rights advocate and a Trustee with REACT Humanitarian Network, an NGO that supports, promotes and advances
disabled child education in the most vulnerable communities in Ghana. You can reach him on or +44 7931182669


[1]The CRPD (2012) is an evolving Framework which emerged from an interaction between Persons with impairments, governments, NGOs and the UN with an
objective to removing barriers that hinder effective participation of disabled people from participation in society on equal basis with others.

[2]React Humanitarian Network is an International Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which was established in 2016 at Wantage, Oxford, in the UK,
with the principal objective of transforming disability into ability or empowerment through the medium of education.

[3]World Conference on Special on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality, Salamanca, Spain, 7-10 June 1994 p. 28

[4]UN General Assembly Resolution No.47/3


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