A cancer diagnosis can often mean a child’s education is put on hold. In Ghana, World Child Cancer has helped refurbish and develop specialist hospital schools, made possible by funding from The British and Foreign School Society (BFSS). These schools not only allow children to continue with their learning but also give them a break from their bed and the constant reminder that they are unwell.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many teachers have been unable to go into the hospital, as they are working hard to limit the risk of infection. This means many children risk being left behind in their education.
In response to this, we were able to print some learning resources for the children, focused on Covid-19. The books are designed to be educational, fun and supportive. They help explain how children can protect themselves and others from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and often-confusing reality.
Each child on the ward, in the day care unit and in the mothers’ hostel were given an age-appropriate activity book, pencils, pens, rubber and sharpener. Each child’s activity pack came in a separate plastic folder to help with infection control.
The BFSS-funded project started in November 2018 and, in addition to educational resources, has seen the refurbishment of four school playrooms at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Accra. This includes one on the paediatric oncology unit. It has also helped World Child Cancer to provide specialist teacher training for a hospital setting, focusing on children with additional needs. This includes strategies for bedside teaching, which is particularly important for patients who are too weak to leave their beds.
The immense emotional impact of childhood cancer can also affect children’s learning abilities, so teachers are specially trained by psychologists to recognise children with poor or deteriorating mental health and provide them with the additional support they need when engaging in new learning activities.
Augusta Asiedu-Lartey, Child Life Specialist at the hospital said, “Understanding how to protect themselves from Covid-19 is important for keeping the children safe in these times. The children were really interested in knowing more about the virus and it helped them to feel less frightened. They were delighted to show me all the things they had learned.”