Ministry of Education, Guyana

Thursday, 25 October 2018 09:32

“Not segregation; inclusion” National SEN Officer tells parents, educators

The National Special Education Needs (SEN) Officer within the Ministry of Education, Ms. Savvie Hopkinson charged parents yesterday to move away from segregating children with disability from the rest of society and advocate for inclusion.

Ms. Hopkinson made this plea at a symposium held on Thursday, October 25, 2018, at the Beterverwagting Quamina Primary School for parents of children with special needs and disability.

The event was held through collaboration between the SEN Unit of the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD) and the Department of Education Region 20181101 3

According to Ms. Hopkinson, many parents hide their children with disabilities because they do not believe they need an education. “They are absolutely wrong”, she said.
Ms. Hopkinson commended all the parents who have enrolled their children with a disability into schools. She urged those parents to advise others that it is the right of every child to receive an education.

She said, “The Ministry of Education has made and is making provision for children with disabilities to access education and other skills that will enhance their development.”

It was appropriate that the symposium was held at the Beterverwagting Quamina Primary School since according to Ms. Hopkinson, children living on the East Coast of Demerara can access the SEN Centre located within the school which she described as a prime example of an inclusive 20181101 2

“Such a setting allows children with disabilities and those without disabilities to access educational services in the same environment. They can work and play together, therefore we ask you parents to give your child freedom for interaction,” Ms. Hopkinson urged.

Further, she said that children with any disability need more educational support. She said that parents must be reminded that disability is not inability. She explained that a child’s greatest advocate is their parent.

Focusing on the responsibilities of parents, Ms. Hopkinson made it clear that the first responsibility of parents of children with disabilities is to accept the reality in order to seek the help needed and follow recommendations that would improve the life chances of the 20181101 5

She said that acceptance permits parents to become appreciative of the child and view the child as a blessing. “It allows for building a meaningful relationship with the child. It’s a means of providing peace within families and promoting joy, happiness and support”, Ms. Hopkinson advised parents.

Following acceptance of the reality, parents were told yesterday that they are then free to pursue information to understanding the disability of the child. The National SEN Officer said that understanding the child’s disability means to know and accept it for what it is it and to gather information, ask questions, engage supportive teachers and educate themselves.

During the symposium students of the SEN Centre at the Beterverwagting Quamina Primary School performed a medley of folk and national songs while experts in the area of Special Needs delivered remarks and shared their experiences.

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