Recognising the need for intervention for visually impaired children, the Ministry of Education will be teaming up with the Ministry of Health to screen every child in the school system for visual problems. This is according to Chief Education Officer Dr. Marcel Hutson who noted that people who are visually impaired can make an impact on the development of Guyana.
“The Government of Guyana in 2023, will be screening every child in our school system from nursery, primary and secondary for visual problems,” he said, and added that the children will receive assistance with spectacles.
Dr Hutson was addressing the first National Blind Education Conference being hosted by the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD) in partnership with the Ministry of Education’s Resource Unit for the Blind and Visually Impaired with support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and USAID.
The conference is being held as Guyana celebrates 52 years of blind education and will focus on the current approach to blind education and developing new directions for the future.
Dr Hutson on Tuesday pledged the Education Ministry’s support to building capacity for blind learners.
Further, the Education Officer reminded that the Ministry is using multiple projects to ensure that these students receive the assistance needed at schools.
“We look forward as a Ministry for the report that will come out from the conference and so whatever reports that might come out, I am sure will add value to what we do as we move forward,” he said.
Dr Hutson reminded that the David Rose School now has software for classes to be conducted through the use of technology which makes learning easier for blind learners. In addition, the special education needs officers are dispatched at every region to conduct outreaches to children living with disabilities.
Importantly, Dr Hutson said the Ministry is aware that everybody has challenges with learning but it is also the Ministry’s duty to find ways to help learners.
He said the panel discussion that will be held soon will provide the Ministry with data that is needed for a more constructive response to the challenges learners face.
“The fact of the matter is that we are not oblivious to some of the challenges… That [panel discussion] is the first thing that must happen. We must be familiar with what is happening. We must have the data so that you could make the transformation,” Dr Hutson said.
He said the ministry will continue to work along with its stakeholders to build capacity at schools to cater for the challenges these learners face.
This inaugural conference is being held to assess the current status of blind education implementation in Guyana and to strategise the way forward.