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The Government has signed a grant agreement with the Japanese Government for US$2.9 million to implement the Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities project.

The signing took place during the opening session of a two- day conference on ‘Labour Market Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities’, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, in downtown Kingston, on June 11.

The project is being funded by the Japan Policy Human Resources Development Grant and implemented through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, signed on behalf of the Government, while Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Yasuo Takase, signed on behalf of his government and Francesca Lamana signed on behalf of the World Bank.

Mr. Kellier said the Ministry remains committed to the recognition and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities through the provision of access to services and other opportunities, aimed at improving their quality of life.

The Minister encouraged companies in the private sector to embrace the skills-set of members of the disabled community.

The main objectives of the project are: to increase the employability and skills development of Persons with Disabilities (ages 18-36); and to improve the service delivery of special education needs to children with disabilities between 0-6 years of age.

Meanwhile, Director of Social Security in the Ministry, Denzil Thorpe, informed that the Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities project will establish linkages with the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

He explained that under the project, there will be provision of skills training and access to employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, targeting at least 600 persons, 300 of which should be beneficiaries of PATH.

“This is being done as part of efforts to facilitate the economic independence of persons with disabilities on PATH, who we have been unable to reach under the Steps to Work Programme, which is the welfare to work programme being implemented by the Ministry,” Mr. Thorpe said.

He further informed that the project will enhance the service delivery of the Early Stimulation Programme, which provides services to children with disabilities between the ages of 0-6 years, inclusive of the provision of assistive and adaptive aids, rehabilitative sessions and support to parents in caring for children with disabilities.

The Director added that the Ministry is implementing an electronic register of persons with disabilities islandwide, which will provide relevant empirical data that will be useful for proper planning. He encouraged persons to register with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, the organization established by the Government to implement policies for persons with disabilities.

In the meantime, the Ministry also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), to refurbish the office of the Early Stimulation Programme at a cost of US$1 million.

Minister Kellier said this project is an attempt to ensure that a programme of inclusion is initiated at the earliest possible opportunity. He explained that the MoU is part of a larger loan with the Inter-American Development Bank, which was signed in December of 2013.

This project will see rehabilitation and construction works done to the Early Stimulation Programme Assessment Centre at Hanover Street and Stimulation Plus, the school operated at Ostend Close in Kingston.

Mr. Kellier thanked the Ministry’s international and local partners for their unwavering support to the effort of creating an inclusive Jamaica.

“I also wish to salute those companies in the private sector that have already made the choice to hire, retain and promote persons with disabilities,” he said.

The conference is being held under the theme ‘Support to Improving the Lives of Persons with Disabilities’.

Contact: Andrea Braham