JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID) is looking to forge new partnerships, while strengthening existing collaborations, in order to better serve the intellectually disabled community.
  • Under the apprenticeship programme, some 70 participants were able to earn permanent employment in business establishments in 2015. Another 70 persons are expected to benefit this year.
  • Intellectual disability is characterised by below-average intelligence or mental ability.

The Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID) is looking to forge new partnerships, while strengthening existing collaborations, in order to better serve the intellectually disabled community.

Addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, JAID’s Executive Director, Christine Rodriguez, said partnerships are needed with Government and non-government entities to ensure the sustainability of programmes being undertaken by the association.

She cited for example, the apprenticeship programme, which provides skills training and employment for persons with intellectual disabilities.

The initiative is being undertaken through support from the Labour and Social Security Ministry, with funding from the Government of Japan through the World Bank (WB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Under the apprenticeship programme, some 30 participants were able to earn permanent employment in business establishments in 2015. Another 70 persons are expected to benefit this year.

With the programme slated to end in September, JAID is in discussion with the Labour Ministry to extend the provisions.

“We need partnerships…that will help to sustain an apprenticeship programme indefinitely so it is not just money in hand,” Mrs. Rodriquez said.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is another of JAID’s major Government partners.

President of the Association, Sonia Jackson, said that the collaboration with the Education Ministry dates back to 1973.

“They have been supporting our schools and we thank them for it because through that, we have nearly 1,500 children in schools across the island. We are (also) partnering with the Ministry of Labour in a small programme with adults,” she noted.

Among the non-government partners is the Digicel Foundation, which has built a school for persons with intellectual disabilities in St. Mary.

“Digicel has refurbished our school in St. James and they are going to be building a secondary unit in St. Thomas,” Miss Jackson informed.

JAID has also collaborated with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which provides volunteers for the execution of some of its programmes; the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF); Tara Courier Service, among others.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Rodriguez called for the support of communities and businesses to employ persons with intellectual disabilities who, according to the World Report on Disability, continue to be among the least employed group across the world.

JAID is a non-governmental organisation, which was founded in 1955 by Randolph Lopez, a parent of a child with Down’s syndrome.

Among its services are: Educational Assessment and Placement; Psycho-educational Assessment; Early Intervention and Special Education; Transition and Vocational Services; Continuing Education (in partnership with HEART Trust/NTA); and Integration Support.

Intellectual disability is characterised by below-average intelligence or mental ability. People with intellectual disabilities can and do learn new skills, but they learn them more slowly. There are varying degrees of intellectual disability, from mild to profound.