JIS News

Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore, says the Government is continuously working to improve its capacity to assist persons with disabilities, and help them to break down barriers hindering their progress.
“The barriers that persons with disabilities face, we want to remove all those barriers and give full access. We want to put persons with disabilities in the front of every store, as an active ingredient in every business,” the Minister said.
He was speaking at a graduation ceremony at the Apostolic Church of God Jamaica, Kingston, on Wednesday July 21, for children with disabilities who successfully completed the early intervention curriculum of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP).
He noted that his Ministry was constantly working, through the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, to get these individuals into jobs.
“We have had success in giving grants, of different kinds, to families with persons with disabilities to allow them to become more financially independent,” he said.
Mr. Gallimore also noted that the Government was refocused on the education of disabled children, pointing to his Ministry’s collaboration with the Ministry of Education in mainstreaming children with disabilities. Through the Ministry’s Early Stimulation Programme, over 6,000 children with disabilities have been placed in the primary education system.
The ESP caters to children, from birth to six years, with various types of developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation, as well as children with various forms of mental and physical disabilities.
Wednesday’s ceremony saw 36 children, some with severe mental and physical disabilities, graduating from the programme. Of the number, 31 are to be placed in special education classes at the primary level, and another five will join the regular school system.
The Minister noted that there were plans to further expand the programme, which was started in Kingston and St. Andrew, but now operated in St. Catherine, St. Thomas and Portland, as well.
“We have travelled across the island to look at other areas, in different sections of the island, where we can expand this programme, because we know that the assistance is needed,” he said.
Mr. Gallimore noted that there was also a refocusing on the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), the Government’s main safety net to further assist persons with disabilities. The Japanese government’s grant of US$2.5 million will assist an additional 10,000 persons categorised as being poor or persons with disabilities, or the elderly.
He also stated that the National Advisory Board for Persons with Disabilities was putting the “finishing touches” on the National Disability Bill, which was expected to take into consideration all the rights of disabled persons, especially as it relates to access to education and employment.
“We want to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are guaranteed and are protected, and that we lift the standards where employment is concerned and where education, health and access to all of Jamaica is concerned,” Mr. Gallimore concluded.
Since its inception in 1975, more than 30,000 children have benefited from the ESP.

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