Sunday, May 5, 2013

Karim appeals for greater assistance for persons with disabilities; UTT already helping

File: Senator Fazal Karim
Fazal Karim told a conference on disabilities in Port of Spain on Saturday an estimated 50 million in Latin America and the Caribbean have some form of disability and that 10 per cent of that figure is in the Caribbean region. He also stated that 82 per cent of the disabled population live in poverty.

The Tertiary Educcation Minister was speaking at the Consortium of Disability Organisations’ (CODO) Arts and Disabilities Conference at the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA).

Karim noted that people with special needs generally experience exclusion from their communities because of stigmatisation or neglect. And he pointed that most of these people live in poverty because they cannot find meaningful employment.

“There is an element of discrimination and disrespect, lack of consideration and care and concern," he said. 

"It is only when it comes close to home that you think differently, and that is why we want to be proactive in this approach. 

"These are our citizens and therefore we must take care of them, we must invest in them because if we do not invest in them we are not investing in their future. We see them as social problems as opposed to opportunities for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to excel,” he added.

He spoke about children's poor attendance at schools when they come from homes where a parent or parents are disabled. He explained that there is a void in developing facilities to cater for these children - a severe lack of adequate transportation, teacher training, equipment, furniture, learning materials and access to school infrastructure.

The conference was sponsored by the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and CODO.

Karim described it as an important avenue to explore the issues of education in general including:
  • arts and education for people with special needs
  • the use of music as a means of communication and self-expression for disabled participants
  • the promotion of entrepreneurial opportunities available for disabled artistes. 
The minister said UTT is now providing a national teaching artist training course in 18 centres across the country for students at the Academy for Performing Arts at UTT to learn how to teach music classes to pupils with physical, cognitive, emotional and sensory challenges.

He promised that the new Costaatt campus in Chaguanas would have facilities to support persons with disabilities.

“We will continue to facilitate the presence of special needs assistants in classrooms, so that such challenged students can exercise their given right to be educated in conventional institutions.

“And I’m challenging all of the agencies under the Ministry in academic and technical vocational training to create online courses so that students could learn from home,” Karim said.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai