Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the Government is committed to ensuring that schools are accessible to all children, including those with disabilities.
“We want no child to be left behind. Children are Jamaica’s important resource, and we want to bring them into mainstream so we can develop their full potential,” he added.
Minister Reid was speaking with JIS News at the National Labour Day Project at the St. Ann’s Bay Infant School, St. Ann, today (May 23), where a wheelchair ramp was installed to accommodate children with physical disabilities.
The activity kicked off the Government’s ‘Ramps in Schools’ programme aimed at building ramps in 126 institutions across the island by the end of the financial year.
Senator Reid said the national project, which is being implemented at a cost of $3.5 million, will send the right signal that the education system is inclusive.
“This, we are hoping, will be a model school, an inclusive school, because we have to target all our children, including those who have special needs, those who otherwise are at home and can’t find an education facility to house them,” he explained.
In the meanwhile, Principal of the St. Ann’s Bay Infant School, Debbie Parson- Morris, expressed her gratitude to the Government for selecting the institution as one of the national projects.
“I am extremely happy. Words are not enough to say how I am feeling now. It has (always) been my concern (about) access to children who have disabilities; now I can boast that I will now have ramps for the children who are not able to walk to get to their classrooms,” she said.
She noted further that the work will go a far way in ensuring that the school is certified by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).
“Inspection is any time now, and with this amount of work being done today, then we are well on our way to be certified,” she said.
For her part, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, who is also Member of Parliament for North East St. Ann, said that the initiative is a welcome one and continuous efforts will be placed in ensuring that all schools are disabled-friendly.
“As Minister with responsibility for the disabled community, it is even more important as we seek to make schools accessible to all children. At the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, we have responsibility for the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), which deals with children 0-6 years old who are physically and mentally challenged,” she noted.
“So, the importance of having accessible schools for all children is very important…. and we will be working assiduously to make sure that it is a reality,” she said.
Participating in the day’s activities were Senator Floyd Morris, and volunteers from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF); National Education Trust (NET), which is spearheading the ‘Ramps in Schools’ programme; Social Development Commission (SDC); Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; Ministry of Labour and Social Security; Christian Evangelism Fellowship; Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo); residents of the community; and parents of children of the institution.
The day’s activities also included repair of the roof, de-bushing, installation of a perimeter fence, and the painting of the sickbay and administrative areas of the facility.
Labour Day 2018 was celebrated under the theme ‘Ramp it up… Fix it up’.