The Abilities Foundation, a division of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, has expanded its curriculum to better cater to the needs of persons with disabilities.
In addition to garment construction, furniture making, office administration, housekeeping, ornamental horticulture, and landscaping, the facility now offers courses in design and décor, computer repair, data operation, and crop production.
Managing Director at the Foundation, Suzanne Hamilton, told JIS News that the aim of the facility is to fully equip special needs students with the requisite skills, so that after graduation, they can find their place in the society.
“We liaise with employers in both the public and private sectors, in an effort to assist students with job placements, so that they can support themselves. We also go into the organizations and host sensitization sessions with employers about how to communicate with persons with disabilities. For example, writing on paper or sending text messages, as means of communication for deaf persons,” she said.
She informed JIS News that the courses taught at the Foundation are lifelong skills that prepare students for the world of work, whether it is in the form of entrepreneurship or employment in any given organization.
“We are working to reach out to more persons with disabilities, because we have noticed that when most of the students graduate, acquiring employment is a challenge. We are trying at the ground level, step by step, to offer as many courses as possible, to make them more marketable, so that they can contribute to nation building,”
Miss Hamilton said.
She pointed out that the computer repair course will commence in September, three times per week, and is open to the public.
“We realize that there are a lot of unattached youth in the surrounding communities, so to a large extent, the course will provide them with a skill, and enable them to become productive citizens,” Miss Hamilton noted.
She explained that the programmes offered are a joint initiative between the Ministry and the HEART Trust/NTA, after which a National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQJ) certificate is issued at the end of each course.
The Foundation currently caters to persons aged 17 to 65 years, who have hearing and visual impairments and physical and intellectual disabilities.
CONTACT: JENEVA GORDON