An adapted version of the Ministry of Education’s language curriculum for deaf students was launched yesterday and training of teachers by regional experts is underway.
The ceremony was held in the auditorium of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development in Kingston in the presence of Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine.
The project began in 2015 with the Deaf Association Guyana (DAG) commissioning Dr Keren Cumberbatch of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus to undertake a situational analysis of deaf education locally, a release from GINA stated.
Addressing the launch yesterday, Dr Cumberbatch said that the situational analysis of deaf education in Guyana, the first step of this project, saw visits to all the deaf schools and meetings with students and teachers to identify the educational and vocational needs of the Guyanese deaf community.
Dr Cumberbatch’s visit resulted in the recognition of two major areas of deficiencies; the absence of a ‘deaf-friendly’ curriculum and insufficient training for teachers, which resulted in the creation of a conceptual framework for addressing these deficiencies, the release continued. Work on the conceptual framework constituted phase two of the project.
Phase three, which constituted yesterday’s activities focused on the adaptation of the curriculum and the provision of training for teachers, heads of school and Ministry of Education administrators working with deaf students.
The launching was followed by a series of training session which will continue up to the 22nd April for teachers, heads of school and Ministry of Education administrators working with deaf students, the release stated. Phase three of the project seeks to ensure that Guyanese deaf students are both functional in sign and English language.
President of DAG, Sabine McIntosh explained that the project will benefit over 100 deaf children enrolled in public schools, the 20 in private schools and two-times that number of school-aged children living across Guyana who are not currently enrolled in or attending school.
Dr Cumberbatch and Sharon Morgan of the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, Jamaica will be the facilitators for the training sessions which are being conducted with support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the release said.
Dr Cumberbatch said that the final stage of the project looks at implementation of the adapted curriculum through such interventions as the conversion of textbooks to Guyanese sign language, the creation of material for students to learn fundamental concepts and the training of teachers in deaf education.
She warned of the need for social welfare involvement, parent involvement and teacher training and the implementation of nursery education for deaf students if the project is to be successfully implemented and have the desired future impact of ensuring deaf students are functional and comfortable in the two languages.
According to the GINA release, Roopnaraine told the gathering. “I want to assure you that in relation to children with disabilities, we are passionately committed to ensuring that the access to quality education does not exclude them,” the Minister said.
He paid homage to those working with and teaching students with disabilities. “I want to really salute my colleagues in the Ministry of Education who have been working on these areas with great attentiveness and discipline and commitment,” he said.
“My own feeling is what we do for the children with disabilities is what really should drive the education process as a whole, because what teaching the children with disabilities calls for is a level of dedication, commitment and love of children. If these principles and practices can guide us in the Ministry of Education, I think that we would be doing what we are put there to do,” he added.