Background of the Study

In recent times, extending access to education has been a global focus because education remains an essential tool for promoting empowerment and social cohesion (Butcher, Sinclair & Clarke, 2015). According to Hanushek (2013), the focus on human capital as a driver of economic growth for developed and developing countries alike, has led to excessive attention on school attainment. It is widely acknowledged that, the impact of human capital becomes strong when the focus of education turns to the role of school quality (Hanushek, 2013). The role of improved schooling has been a central part of the development strategies of most countries and contemporary studies shows significant improvements in school attainment across the developing world in recent decades (Botts, & Owusu, 2013). The UN (2019) posits that education reduces inequalities, can break the cycle of poverty, foster tolerance, reach gender equality and equity, and empower people to live more healthy lives and attain productive livelihoods.

More so, the 21st century has seen several agenda, deliberations and programmes towards improving and harnessing education across several spheres, endeavours and industries. A typical global agenda was leveraged through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and now through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UNDP, 2018). The Education for All (EFA) initiative from the United Nations was an essential element of the Millennium Development Goals, in part, because education was seen as being crucial to human development, and also because so many children did not have access to education (UNESCO, 2005). The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 also seeks equitable quality education and promote lifelong le                                              (UN, 2019).

Inclusive education has been a global task to which school system across the world respond. It is perhaps understood as a process towards school systems that welcome all learners despite their background, disability or other personal characteristics (Malinen, Savolainen, & Xu, 2012). This move has been identified as a catalyst for educational transformation towards realising quality education for all, although, there are clear differences in national policies and transformation of schools (Savolainen, Engelbrecht, Nel, & Malinen, 2012). According to Marx, (2019), the growth and spread of education has come with inclusiveness and equity in

schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions (Butakor, Ampadum, & Suleiman, 2018). That is, school should include children with special educational needs and gifted children, street and working children, children from remote or nomadic populations, ethnic or cultural minorities and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized backgrounds (Marx, 2019). Inclusive education embraces the concept of diverse backgrounds of learners with varied characteristics, such as different learning capacities and cognitive development.

Inclusion is based on the philosophy that all students are different in their own way and in order to meet their learning needs, therefore, schools need to adapt and change their practices. Thus, under an inclusive philosophy, schools exist to meet the needs of all students, hence, if a student is experiencing difficulties, the problem is with the schooling practices not with the student (Sharma, Loreman, & Forlin, 2012). The main aim of incorporating such development into mainstream education is to facilitate the building of an inclusive society which has gained international audience. For instance, in 1993 the education of children with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms became an internationally accepted goal both by the United Nations and at the World Conference on Special Needs Education in Salamanca (Nketsia & Saloviita, 2013). According to Spencer and Duhaney (2009), data from the department of

education in the United State in 1996 revealed that about 73% to 95% of students with learning needs received their instructional program in education classrooms and resource room settings, and general education schools respectively. Including all children in education has been a major challenge facing educational systems around the world (Ainscow & Sandill, 2010).

Despite the push for educational inclusion for all learners across the globe, the case of Africa is less told as it is estimated that, only 10% of children with learning needs in Africa attend school (UNESCO, 2009). In South Africa, up to 70% of children of school-going age with learning needs   schools (Donohue & Bornman, 2014). Similarly, Ghana, like many other developing and Sub- Saharan African countries struggle to achieve goals for inclusive education (Kofi & Anastasiou, 2015). It is estimated that, only about 3% of children with learning needs receive any form of education. This translates to the fact that, either children and youth with learning needs drop out of basic education in a very short time or have never had the opportunity to go to school at all (Idol, 2006).

In recent times, Ghana has ratified its commitment to Education for All (EFA) and to reaching marginalised students through inclusive education (Anthony, 2011). This shows a clear evidence that the government of Ghana has committed itself, at both the international and national levels, to the human rights, equalisation of opportunities and provision of educational services for individuals with learning needs (Anthony, 2011). Despite the progress in establishing inclusive educational system across the length and breadth of Ghana, its realization seems far behind. The country is nowhere near achieving the target of an inclusive system of education (Kofi & Anastasiou, 2015). Therefore, there is the need for extra effort in awareness and effective governmental responses to improve the quality of life of persons with special educational needs as an urgent step toward realising the inclusive educational goal ( Botts, & Owusu, 2013).