MultiKids Inclusive Academy (MKA) is a school in Accra, Ghana that changes lives. Take Nanayaw – a young man with autism and a passion for making audio speakers. “He has a real talent for this work,” says co-founder and CEO Mandy Budge. “Working with our community of professionals and his parents, we set up an apprenticeship with a local electrical engineer. Previously, Nanayaw’s family had no idea what his future might hold. This changed everything.”
Established in February 2010 as Ghana’s first and only inclusive international school, MKA is a fee-paying organisation that educates children both with and without special educational needs. “We take all kinds of learners, which makes MKA unique,” says Budge. Creative courses – notably in music, art, digital media and drama – are offered alongside academic and vocational teaching for students aged one to 21. Classes are small: 55 members of staff teach and support 90 children in groups of no more than seven. A therapy team including an educational psychologist, counsellors and speech and physical therapists are key to making inclusion work.
No fear of difference
“Children with an obvious disability are still frequently neglected, abandoned or seen as cursed in Ghana,” says Budge. “Our community is inclusive, creative, and nurtures talent. You’ll see a kid with autism on the football pitch, high-fiving with other mainstream students. That’s levelling. Children grow up without a fear of difference.”
Through a personalised curriculum, every child has the opportunity to develop his or her potential, including options to sit Cambridge examinations up to A Level. Most go on to university or college.
MKA is committed to making an impact on its local community. “Our musicians run a weekly programme in the children’s ward of a psychiatric hospital” says Budge, “and we’re committed to raising awareness of inclusion and sharing practice with staff from other schools.” Global Citizenship is a key aspect of the curriculum, while advocacy for inclusion is a driving force.
With its vision clearly on the future, MKA collaborates with Next Step, a transitional project that helps students find their pathway in life and become independent. It’s the handover point for a school that works hard to challenge perceptions among people of all abilities and outlooks. For young adults with special needs that difference is literally life changing.