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The Situation and Solutions of Institutional and Community-Based Rehabilitation for Persons With Mental and Physical Disabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa
In the far past, disabled persons (children and adults alike) were totally excluded from regular schools. Disabled persons were often placed in institutions that provided little, if any, education. However, there has been a gradual transformation from the initial cruel attitudes to more relatively acceptable dispositions and finally the era of special education. In spite of the establishment of special education schools, denial of the rights of the disabled persons has continued unabating in the society. Thus, the situation and solutions of institutional and community based rehabilitation for persons with mental and physical disabilities in sub-Saharan Africa are examined in this paper. Special Education is one major aspect of formal education, as old as the history of informal education, but which is dedicated to the education of persons (children and adults) who have learning difficulty because of different sorts of handicaps or disabilities. The challenge to the various governments in sub-Saharan Africa now are the dwindling qualities of services and the growing disparity between services rendered by Institution based rehabilitation (IBR) centres and the Community based Rehabilitation (CBR) centres, both, institutions established to cater for the welfare of the disabled persons. A visit to any of the centres in the region, regardless of the country and the model, reveals a litany of constraints and problems encountered by the institutions per se and by all categories of staff, teaching and non-teaching. Both the institution-based and community-based rehabilitation centres now epitomize symbols of “hopes, promises and fantasies that never materialized” particularly for the children and adults inmates in these centres. The problems are many. Suffice to say that at present, the situation of institution and community-based Rehabilitation centres for the mentally and physically disabled persons in sub-Saharan Africa are as despicable and deplorable. Finding solutions to the challenges of institutions and community based organizations for persons with mental and physical disabilities in countries of sub-Saharan Africa will involve behaviours and attitudes change on the part of the people. It will necessitate adaptation of appropriate technologies for facilitating disabled persons’ mobility, speech and hearing and reasoning problems, making the technologies available, accessible and affordable and providing regulatory climate governing the release and use of such technology products. It will involve also disease prevention and control strategies, capacity building, modifying classroom environments, using newly developed innovative aids, and involvement of all stakeholders in decision making and execution and finally, combining the strategy of combining adequate financial support (AFS) and sustained sharing of ideologies and resources (SIR) by both IBRs and CBRs. These would be most beneficial, but only, and only if the finances, ideologies and resources meant for the mentally and physically disabled persons reach them appropriately, in time and at appropriate centres.