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More than 30 persons with disabilities are set to benefit from an adult education programme being offered by the Combined Disabilities Association (CDA), with funding from the Jamaica National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Under the programme, dubbed: ‘Secondary Education for Adults with Disabilities,’ participants will be prepared to sit three Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) subjects – English Language, Mathematics and Principles of Business.
The classes, which are expected to begin on September 21, will be held at the Jamaica Society for the Blind and the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre in Kingston, while support will be provided for students at the Lister Mair Gilby School for the Deaf, also in Kingston.
At the launch of the programme today (Sept. 10) at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in Kingston, Chairperson for the CDA, Henrietta Davis-Wray, informed that some $2.5 million has been provided by the Commission to provide the classes; purchase books and other materials; remunerate teachers; and assist unemployed persons and low-income earners with transportation costs.
She informed that the entity has already recruited teachers for the programme and carried out screening of more than 50 potential students. “This figure far exceeds the number of persons the programme can accommodate. What is however, more significant, is that it illustrates the high demand for educational programmes by this group,” she noted.
State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore commended the work of the CDA in improving the lives of persons with disabilities, noting that through this programme, the entity has created an opportunity for the participants to improve their academic qualifications.
“This is, I am sure, going to result in some of them continuing on to tertiary institutions…I know that it is going to result also in upgrading the skills of those who are employed (so that) they can attract better compensation when they work,” he stated.
Mr. Gallimore noted that the CDA has put preparations in place to ensure that all persons with disabilities, who will attend the classes, are fully accommodated.
“They (CDA) have gone out of their way to ensure that the persons, who will be involved as teachers, are well trained and are sensitive to the issues affecting persons with disabilities and know how to teach students, who have special needs. They have also ensured that all the assistive technology and materials that are required, will be in place to assist in this learning process,” he informed.
The State Minister urged the participants to “take every advantage of this hard work that is being put in by all these different stakeholders. I want you to take the instruction the best way that you can. I want you to maximise what you walk away from this course of study with.”
Programme participant, Nickeisha Reeves, who is confined to a wheelchair, said she was glad for the opportunity to improve her academic qualifications, noting that many persons with disabilities have been treated unfairly and misjudged at times due to lack of credentials.
“Having a skill is wonderful, but the reality is that to work in any organisation there are various standard requirements, one of which is academic, that is, having subjects in CXC or its equivalent. This is where most of us fall short,” she pointed out.
She implored fellow participants to take “full charge of this expensive, high-quality and tremendous opportunity and do our best to make this a success so that the programme can receive further support in order that others can also benefit.”
Programme Manager for the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO, Dr. Maria Smith informed that the initiative falls under UNESCO’s Participation Programme, which provides member states with support for activities in the organisation’s regular programme priorities.
“We at the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO are pleased to be involved with such a project which “is designed to meet the learning needs of persons with disabilities, therefore enriching their lives,” she said.

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