Disabilities should not separate persons from each other – Minister Manickchand

…as MoE and GPL launch Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month 2022
(April 1, 2022) – Today the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) launched Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month 2022. Today’s launch began with an Autism Walk which began at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) and ended at Main Street Avenue in front of GPL’s office where a formal programme to launch the month of activities was held.

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Autism is a developmental disability that affects communication and behaviour. The Honourable Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand said during her remarks that disabilities should not separate persons from each other. She said that the efforts of the State must include the formal and organised establishment of systems within institutions that allows Guyana to benefit from the skills and talents of persons living with autism.
“Every time we prevent persons with differences to contribute to development, we are taking away from that person the opportunity to be all that they can be,” the Education Minister noted.
She said that autism awareness must continue so that the wider society can understand what it is and how it can be managed. Minister Manickchand said that this must be taught through the curriculum in schools and the training offered at the Cyril Potter College of Education.
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Further, she said that it requires the home, the church, the school, the work environment and the country as a whole to actively address how persons with disabilities can participate in school, the workforce and the country’s development as a matter of policy and human right.
Chief Executive Officer of GPL, Mr. Bharat Dindyal said that he hopes the ‘light’ that was lit today raising awareness about autism, continues to shine for the rest of the year and into the future. Mr. Dindyal said that he hopes that today’s launch can galvanise conversation and see initiatives focused on addressing the issue.
Moreover, he said that the company’s participation is intended to be a part of the power company’s anniversary celebrations this year but pledged the company’s continued partnership in highlighting and raising awareness about autism.
National Special Education Needs (SEN) Officer, Ms. Savvie Hopkinson said that todays’ observance celebrates the resilience of those affected by the disorder and supports causes that promote awareness of the developmental condition.
She said that Autism Month is being observed under the theme: “Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World.”
Ms. Hopkinson added that with the growing confidence that the worse of the COVID-19 pandemic is passing, there can be an examination of whether there have been reversals of the gains made in addressing the effects of autism.
“As always the wellbeing of our students must be our first and primary concern. This Autism Month must therefore serve to refocus educators, reenergize parents and mobilize communities,” she remarked.
Director of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Mrs. Quenita Walrond-Lewis said that NCERD’s SEN Unit is thrilled to lead the charge in heightening awareness of autism. She said that today’s activity is a signal that the agency and the Ministry are gaining ground to champion not just awareness but longer strides to inclusivity not only in education but also in creating pathways for inclusion in the workplace.