Both Jamaica and Guyana have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and each followed this by passing national disability acts. However, gaps remain between the commitments made and the policies and practices currently in place.
How we are helping
Supporting a partnership project between ChildLink, Guyana and Guyanese and Jamaican partners to develop the skills of parents, teachers and civil society organisations to engage the education system and continue to hold it accountable to the act’s provisions.
About the project
In Guyana, the lack of a special education needs (SEN) policy, which is pending approval, has a particular impact on children who have a disability and are not able to attend mainstream schools, such as those with mild autism. Drawing on the experiences of the development and enactment of a successful SEN policy in Jamaica, this project will work with child focussed civil society organisations (CSOs), parents, teachers and children with autism to contribute to adoption of the SEN policy in Guyana.
Despite Jamaica’s well-established SEN policy, and plans to develop a framework to track the development of children with special needs from birth, challenges still remain, including in the areas of assessments, referrals, and support for parents. The project will thus also focus on developing the skills of parents, teachers and civil society organisations in Jamaica to engage the education system and continue to hold it accountable to the act’s provisions.
It is expected that by the end of the project SEN will be mainstreamed into Guyanese government schools. The project also has a strong potential for replication and region wide engagement. In addition to the above activities, ChildLink and its partners will seek out CSOs addressing SEN in the Caribbean with a view to developing a regional network for shared learning on SEN models and approaches. Barbados and Trinidad have been identified as the first two countries for potential replication.
ChildLink Inc was set up in 1995 and has played a leading role in promoting and advocating for the protection of children in Guyana. ChildLinK’s expertise lies in providing child friendly counselling and other psychosocial interventions to children, youths and their families, from a rights based approach, and has pioneered several activities for children’s participation, leadership and ownership such as the National Children’s Conference and the Children’s Forum. It also set up the Child Rights Alliance in 2016 which brings together 20 grassroots child focussed CSOs with government agencies to protect at least 6,000 children from abuse from around Guyana. It has good working relationships with the National Commission on Disability, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security – ChildCare and Protection Agency, for whom they developed their Staff Handbook and Good Practice Guide’.
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