Ministry of Education, Guyana

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Monday, 25 November 2013 19:25

The National Commission on Disability hosted a sensitization session with the Ministry of Education on the Disability Act, 2010

The National Commission on Disability (NCD) today held a sensitization session with senior education officials from the Ministry of Education (MOE) on the Disability Act, 2010, at the NCERD auditorium in Kingston. The main purpose of this sensitization session was to explain the content of The Disability Act, 2010, and to underline the roles and responsibilities of the MOE, in compliance with the Act. The session was led by a number of brief insightful remarks from leading personnel both from the NCD and the MOE.



Setting the tone for the day’s session was the Chief Planning Officer for the MOE, Mrs. Evelyn Hamilton, who also serves as the Chairperson for the NCD. She acknowledged that the MOE has a very important role to play in supporting the Disability Act, 2010 and mentioned some of the preliminary work conducted by the ministry. “The MOE under the initiative of the Minister had undertaken a widespread national consultation on the issue of disability and the responsibilities of the MOE in that sphere,” she said.

“The central ministry, I believe, has a key responsibility in ensuring that all the regions, units and departments within this ministry acknowledge, and are attempting to do what this Act requires of this Ministry. The act itself is very sensible, and doesn’t require the Ministry to do everything at the same time. For example, it gives ten years to bring ourselves in accordance with the Act regarding physical access,” Hamilton stated.

Also briefly addressing the forum was the Chief Education Officer (CEO), Mr. Olato Sam who outlined the Ministry’s position in supporting the Act from an educational perspective with regard to the progressive enhancement of the delivery of education to special needs children. “We have developed for ourselves an action plan that clearly defines and outlines specifically for each officer in the ministry, what the expectations are of the Ministry, for supporting the regions in making the next steps, in ensuring that there is a better quality of education provided for children with special needs. This plan has been widely circulated” he said.

The MOE also supports the development of career paths for special needs teachers, according to the CEO. “Our policy team at central ministry is in the process of rolling out that plan of action so that in moving forward we know that our special education teachers can be regarded within the context that will enable them to deliver a better quality of education to our special needs students.”

Sam was realistic however, in recognizing that much work still needs to be done in the area of teacher education as it relates to special education, and anticipates that the Ministry will continue to work assiduously in that regard.

The Honorable Minister of Education delivered the feature address. She commenced by drawing a distinct parallel between the progress a country makes and the way it treats its most poor and vulnerable citizens. Guyana, she said, is in a far better place today than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago. As a nation, Guyana is making considerable progress in all spheres even amidst notorious challenges.

Additionally, she pointed out, that it has always been the commitment of the ruling party in government to fight for the poor and vulnerable in our society. She expounded on this by highlighting one of the first major acts of the Government in addressing the poor and vulnerable in the establishment of the universality of old age pension. “Immediately upon entering office, the PPP/C said we will give every single person over the age of 65 living in Guyana an old age pension. At that time it was a small amount. That old age pension has now grown to the highest it has ever been in the country,” the Minister stated.

The Minister went on to cite other measures that have been put in place by the Government to tangibly help some of the most poor and vulnerable. She said that pensioners, for example, are given considerable reductions on their water and electricity bills, and they also have access to free health care.

Another area in which the ruling party in office has addressed with determination and commitment to bringing some amount of relief to the poor and vulnerable, is that of public assistance. According to the Minister, “…public assistance is also spread across this country, with the largest number of people receiving, and the largest amount being given, in the history of this country.”

The Minister further amplified the Government’s resolution to working with the poor and vulnerable and pointed to the findings of the World Bank as it assessed Guyana. “In 1991, the World Bank did a study in Guyana in which it states that 67 percent of the Guyanese population was living in poverty. That meant that out of every 100 persons, 67 were living in poverty. In 2008 they did another study which showed that 35 percent were living in poverty. And even though that 35 percent is still too much to accept, what it specifically says is that as a government we will serve our poor first and equalize their lives as much as we can. Today we as a government have cut poverty in half in this country!”

The Government has broadened its focus on persons living with disabilities in establishing the Disabilities Act, 2010, accented to and signed into law by President Bharrat Jagdeo. The MOE along with other key stakeholders and partners will work to ensure that the rights of all citizens living with disabilities are respected and honored.

The session continued with presentations on the content of the Disabilities Act as well as highlighting the roles and functions of the NCD. There was also a discussion on Disability Etiquette, along with a workshop on the development of action plans.

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