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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today (December 3) hosted a virtual check-in with special needs students who received tablet devices through the organisation.

Donation of the tablets by UNICEF was made possible through the financial contribution from the government of the United Arab Emirates, which has been supporting UNICEF in several education projects since 2019.

The event was held in observation of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. The aim was to find out how the students are using their tablets and how they feel about being away from face-to-face school.

This initiative is part of UNICEF’s support for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to re-equip the education sector following the impact of COVID-19.

In her remarks, Minister of Education Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, said she is pleased to see “in action the impact of what we are doing”.

“I want to say thank you so much to UNICEF for the work they continue to do in Jamaica, especially the work that is focused on our children here, our children with special needs in Jamaica,” she said.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Grace McLean, said the special needs population is very important to the Ministry.

“The Ministry will never refuse support for a special needs child, so once there is the need and it is brought to our attention, the Ministry will find the resources to provide the support that is required,” she said.

“[We are] indeed grateful to UNICEF for what you have been doing over the years and specifically in this year during the pandemic. So thank you on behalf of the entire Ministry and on behalf of these wonderful children that we have this morning and their parents,” she added.

Meanwhile, UNICEF Jamaica Country Representative, Mariko Kagoshima, said UNICEF, in collaboration with the Education Ministry, has supported more than 500 children with disabilities with tablets, to ensure that they are able to continue learning during the COVID-19 crisis.

“In fact, Dr. Sharon Anderson-Morgan of the Special Education Unit has been advocating for the introduction of tablets long before the COVID crisis, so it is really great to see all of you have a tablet in your hand and using it so well,” she said.

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3.

It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

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