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Schools’ focus on disabled

Five schools have been chosen to make their institutions more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Yesterday was the launch of the Barbados Council for People with Disabilities (BCD) project in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, My Inclusive School, to introduce DAD (Disability Awareness Day) ambassadors.

Each school was required to identify an ambassador that would develop and implement an initiative to make the school more inclusive to students with disabilities.

Workman’s Primary School and St Matthew’s Primary School chose children with disabilities to be their ambassadors while Deighton Griffith Secondary School, Princess Margaret Secondary School and Grantley Adams Memorial School chose children or staff that helped those with disabilities attending the school.

Each school was given $500, a plaque as well as $200 for the DAD ambassadors with a badge to represent their newfound status.

The winner of the competition will be announced on December 3 to mark International Day For Persons With Disabilities.

Operations manager at BCD, Roseanna Tudor explained that they wanted to transform the mainstream teaching system.

“Under the theme My Inclusive School the Barbados Council for the Disabled is seeking to bring increased awareness to the nation’s 61, 669 from pre-primary to tertiary to create an inclusive education system for all,” Tudor said.

During her address, Deputy Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson reflected upon her time as a teacher at Combermere School the alma mater of president of BCD Kerryann Ifill, who is visually impaired, and the late Kregg Nurse, who suffered from muscular dystrophy.

She then said that special needs students should be integrated into mainstream schools, adding there were plans to facilitate such classrooms.

“Let’s look beyond special needs and see potential. Let us not set them apart. In September, we will be increasing the number of private schools which will have special education programmes and it will provide additional access to students who require specialist teachers and smaller teacher-pupil ratio classes. We also plan to embark on teacher sensitivity and awareness training for students with special needs,” she stated.

She also highlighted the ministry’s efforts to enable teachers to gain a diploma and certification to teach children with disabilities.

“We’ve introduced at the Erdiston Teachers Training College, a professional diploma in education, teaching exceptionalities and students with special needs. This is a one-year intensive programme for teachers in both our public and private schools and we will encourage all teachers to take part in that programme,” she said.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Jehu Wiltshire, said that in addition to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities legislation promised to reach cabinet this month, they intended to secure more employment opportunities for disabled people.

“The National Disabilities Unit is embarking on an enhanced employment programme because we really need to . . . increase the number of people in Barbados with disabilities who can find employment,” he said. ( RT)

From left, deputy chief education officer, Joy Adamson posing with (back row): literacy specialist at Grantley Adams Memorial School Allyson Murray, permanent secretary in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Jehu Wiltshire, president of Barbados Council for People with Disabilities Kerryann Ifill, principal of Deighton Griffith Secondary School, Michael Boyce. Front row: principal of Workman’s Primary School Sanda Downes, their DAD ambassador Ryan-Janae Yarde, Deighton Griffith’s DAD ambassador Annette McDonald, principal of St Matthews Primary School Coleen Gilkes, their DAD ambassador Travis Downer, Princess Margaret’s DAD ambassador, Jahzia Williams and principal Dr Wendy Louis.

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