UNICEF and Ministry of Education, Youth & Information host online check-in for children with special needs
534 Children receiving tablets from UNICEF to help mark International Day for People with Disabilities
KINGSTON, 5 December 2020 – The Ministry of Education, Youth & Information (MOEYI) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday held an online check-in session on the occasion of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD). The discussion was held to ascertain from students their views on how they felt about using their newly donated tablets
The donation valued at approximately J$14 million is part of UNICEF’s support for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s (MOEYI) “One Tablet or Laptop Per Child” initiative and to re-equip the special education sector following the impact of COVID-19.
Speaking to the students Minister of Education Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, expressed her satisfaction in viewing firsthand “the impact of UNICEF’s brilliant efforts”.
“I want to say thank you to UNICEF for the work they continue to do in Jamaica, especially the work that is focused on our children here, especially our children with special needs in Jamaica,” she said.
UNICEF Jamaica Country Representative, Mariko Kagoshima congratulated the children on how well they are adapting to the devices, which are ‘Accessibility Ready’, meaning that students can use them upon delivery to their school by the MOEYI’s Special Education Unit.
“In fact, Dr. Sharon Anderson-Morgan of the Special Education Unit has been advocating for the introduction of tablets long before the COVID 19 crisis, so it is really great to see all of you with a tablet in your hand and using it so well,” said Ms. Kagoshima.
Students themselves were vocal in explaining their experiences to UNICEF and Ministry officials and educators.
For Tichan Beadle, from Edgehill School of Special Education in St Ann, besides improving on subjects, her tablet has also enhanced her social skills and the devices have also been a source of psychosocial support – especially vital for the many children who have experienced disruptions to their normal lives.
“It helps me to interact with my teachers and classmates,” she said. “I receive counselling from my guidance counsellor which helps me to explain how I feel being away from face-to-face class.”
The donation was made possible thanks to the financial contribution from the United Arab Emirates government, which has enabled UNICEF to support several education projects in Jamaica since 2019; together with Unicomer Jamaica Limited which purchased 100 of the tablets; and the generous donation of SIM cards and one-year mobile internet access from the Digicel Foundation.
UNICEF encourages other potential donors to support the ministry’s drive to equip students with devices to enable their participation in distance learning during the pandemic. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, 97% of students are currently out-of-school and many families cannot afford devices and internet access.
A representative survey by UNICEF and the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) of more than 500 households islandwide, between the period of June to August 2020 revealed that 80% of Jamaican households with children have lost income – losing an average of 46%.
The main reasons for children at pre/basic school or primary/preparatory level not engaging in distance learning was attributed to a lack of adequate facilities. At high school age, the main explanation was not possessing a suitable device (62%) and lacking access to the Internet (18%).
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Jamaica, visit www.unicef.org/jamaica.