Some 1,200 children across the country who are living with a disability are set to receive a $100, 000 cash grant each in the coming weeks as part of the government’s thrust to improve their conditions in keeping with the ‘One Guyana’ vision.
The grant was announced by President Dr Irfaan Ali on Friday when he met with hundreds of persons with disabilitiesies at State House, Georgetown.
But the President’s announced support for this category of citizens did not stop there.
He also announced plans to ensure that all children with a disability are automatically registered to receive the monthly public assistance and transportation support for them to get to and from learning institutions and the training of teachers to deliver special needs tutoring.
The President’s announcement was met with loud applause from those gathered as it came in direct response to some of the concerns raised during the interactive session.
It was among the major issues ventilated by parents at Friday’s meeting; they detailed the difficulty they continue to face in accessing public assistance. Persons said the process has been frustrated by persons in charge who sometimes demand unnecessary paperwork, like medical certificates for children who are visibly restricted.
The repeated concerns expressed in this regard saw the President announcing the plans to ensure that all children with a disability get access to an automatic scheme of public assistance.
“I want to see that officer who would deny a child before them who [has a disability] of public assistance. That person has no place in public service.
“If something is before you and [you] can see them, and you still deny them for whatever reason, then you don’t have the emotional capacity and should remove yourself from public service,” Dr. Ali said in response to the many complaints he received.
Parents also spoke about the difficulty in getting their children to learning institutions because of the unavailability of transportation.
To this end, Dr. Ali said he will ensure that each of the seven existing institutions is provided with a bus as a means of upgrading the current transportation arrangement.
Dr. Ali was joined by First Lady Mrs. Arya Ali, who recently announced the construction of a business centre for Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in Region Six.
According to the Head of State, this facility will be replicated in every region in the coming years. He said designated classrooms will be built at select learning institutions for children with disabilities.
“We are working to create a proper register, then we will know how many persons in Guyana are with disabilities and how we can work on a programme to give them the opportunities they need,” Dr. Ali said.
The President joined Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud is also proposing specialised training for teachers to tutor these children.
According to President Ali, the Ministry of Education will work with the University of Guyana (UG) and the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) to design a special training programme for teachers to deliver special needs education.
Among the government’s other initiatives for this category of citizens, as revealed by Minister Persaud, are training of women in professional child and patient care; subsidised day and night care facilities for children with disabilities and training teenagers and young adults with disabilities.
“It will ease a lot of the pain and a lot of the difficulties you have to deal with,” Dr Persaud said.
She said that by August, a training facility will be operational and there will be a countrywide distribution of wheelchairs, white canes and hearing aids.
Dr Persaud reminded that in addition to this, the Difficult Circumstance Unit at the Ministry of Human Services continues to work on a daily basis to address the personal challenges parents with children with disabilities face.