Ministry of Education, Guyana

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 10:04

Educators get training to respond to special needs children

Educators from across Guyana have been made aware of how they can better cater to needs of children with learning disabilities, at a Learning and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) seminar hosted on Tuesday.

The training was held at the Pegasus Hotel by the G. Halley Marville Trust, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the CARICOM Secretariat.
Those attending included senior education officers, welfare officers, cadet officers, mainstream teachers and those attached to special schools in the country. The seminar came about through the initiative of the G. Halley Marville Trust, a registered charity in Barbados, founded in 2018, to address mental health issues and OCD in the Caribbean.
It was birthed out of the personal experience of Marville and her husband who raised their own child who was faced with learning difficulties and OCD but is now able to live an independent life.

Vice-Chairperson Janis Marville said that the Trust is aimed at supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people faced with difficulties such as autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).news 20190412 3

Meanwhile, OCD is a mental disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations or obsessions and behaviors which drive them to do something over and over compulsively. Also present to facilitate the seminar were Psychologist, Dr. Ysanne Marville and Integrative Therapist and OCD Specialist, Craig Shirley.

In her feature address Minister of Education, Dr. Nicolette Henry, urged the gathering not to confuse the term ‘disability’ with ‘inability’. She made it clear that having a learning disability only means that an individual may learn at a slower rate or pace than the average person.

She said that to be inclusive of persons with OCD and learning disorders means that educators must be understanding, prepared and have the required resources to ensure that the learning experience is tailored to a particular need.

“All of us should be patient, kind and willing to acknowledge persons with learning disability. With the right support these persons can live full and meaningful lives. However, if this support is not provided they may face problems in gaining independence or a home of their own, in accessing leisure and recreation activities, and/or in developing friendships and relationships,” Dr. Henry said, adding:

“Whether learning disability or obsessive compulsive disorder, the Ministry of Education is mandated to provide learning opportunities for all.”

She said that one of the ministry’s initiatives is providing learning and teaching through inclusive classrooms whereby students both with and without disabilities learn together. She explained that it is important to the Ministry as it positively impacts the way staff and students work together and it teaches that all are entitled to the opportunity to learn.

Also delivering remarks at the opening ceremony was Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development at CARICOM, Dr. Douglas Slater who spotlighted the importance CARICOM places on “education excellence for every category of learner.”

Referencing the CARICOM Human Resource Development Strategy 2030, he said that it recognises the need to design education systems that are competent in the 21st century and enable optimal learning through student learning support systems.

“This seminar on learning disabilities has been designed with educators and students in mind. It recognises the significant impact well-trained teachers can have on the outcome of students, particularly those with special education needs,” Dr. Slater said.

“Through this collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Guyana and the G. Halley Marville Trust, the CARICOM Secretariat is able to continue to support the advancement of the Regional agenda of ensuring education for our learners.”

Meanwhile, Marville stated that if the organisation were to quantify its contribution to the day’s seminar it would stand at some G$3M. “We pray that the participants today become more aware, compassionate and empathetic to children with learning difficulties; further that this seminar will signal hope and bring into sharp focus those children who are intelligent, perceptive and extremely creative and are just waiting on us to find ways to unleash their potential and creativity so that they can find purpose and meaning in their lives,” she said.


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