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Educators praise inclusive education initiative

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • Inclusive education is to educate disabled students in the regular classroom
  • Teachers under review were not equipped to deal with students with visual impairment

Understanding the value of Inclusive Education for students with special needs and disabilities, Educational Psychologist, Dhana Lazarus has turned her lifelong passion for advocacy for change into action.

Her advocacy started while attaining her bachelor’s degree in Cuba at the University of Universidad Central de Las Villas. She developed a psychoeducational guide, “Prepared teachers and empowered students” and was targeted at mainstream primary school teachers working with students with visual impairments. But Lazarus didn’t stop there. While completing her master’s degree in Special and Inclusive Education from the University College London, Institute of Education, she was a contributing author to the recently published, “Action Research for Inclusive Education: Participation and Democracy in Teaching and Learning” promoting innovative techniques and inclusive educational practices.

The ultimate goal of inclusive education is to educate disabled students in the regular classroom, while at the same time, meet their individual needs. Lazarus’ drive to ensure inclusiveness within the education system stems from her personal experience, diagnosed with visual impairment at the age of 3. Attending the Resource Centre for the Blind and St Joseph’s Convent, St George, she witnessed many challenges and observed deficiencies within the system for students with disabilities. “I was diagnosed with visual impairment. Actually, I was born with visual impairment but was diagnosed at 3 years old and I am partially blind. It is not very visible so I went through school and teachers really didn’t know what to do with me because it looked like I had both my eyes, but I don’t and so that impacted a lot on the sort of help I received. So, my experience wasn’t the best but I understand the reason why it wasn’t, and that’s why I am working to try to help other students coming up who are like me.”

Chapter 2 of the book “Voices of the Unheard” explores the experiences of three teachers from one mainstream primary school in Grenada who work with visually impaired students. These teachers took part in research to improve the psychoeducational guide developed to enable better educational responses to students with visual impairments.

Lazarus explained that stemming from her observation and interview of teachers under review, it was revealed that they weren’t equipped to deal with students with visual impairment and this impacted their delivery in the classroom. “Teachers didn’t seem to know much about their student’s visual impairment. A lack of understanding of the implications of having a visual impairment and the needs of her students with this impairment is evident, but what is also evident is that the teacher places more value on one particular need over another. Another barrier that came about was support and collaboration from relevant personnel. Two teachers emphatically expressed their dissatisfaction with the apparent lack of regard by ministry officials. The teachers’ comments suggest that a top-down leadership approach is exercised by the Ministry of Education which may leave them feeling voiceless and thus impacting negatively on morale and performance.”

During the official launch on Monday, 7 October, Acting Chief Education Officer, Angela Finlay stated that the book is timely since it has been observed that the education system lacks equality in the delivery of education. “When we look at the data compared to the global benchmark, we can boast to a great extent about access, but when it comes to equality, we are a bit on the back foot because data both on exit exams for primary school and what happens more so at the secondary school when students leave school, you find that over 70% of them are not benchmarking and this is a concern. So, it says that we have to do a lot more about that inclusion.”

Finlay encouraged educators to utilise the information within the book to ensure better delivery in the classroom. especially for children with disabilities. “This book is one which every educator should seek to obtain. It draws on the strengths and contributions of teachers. The focus of her publication is to strengthen the participation and independence of all students hence this book should be placed on the must-read list for all educators. I, therefore, encourage all Grenadian lecturers, principals, and teachers to embrace whatever opportunities to get a copy of Dhana’s book,” she said.

Also present at the launch were Her Excellency Iraida Guerrero, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Grenada; Laura Colket, Programme Director of Masters in Education at the St George’s University; Kevin Andall, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Vernice Morain, Past Principal of the Resource Centre for the Blind.

The publication “Action Research for Inclusive Education: Participation and Democracy in Teaching and Learning” is available on Amazon and is also available through both the CRC Press and Routledge Publishing company.

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Caribbean & World

Grenada should never reach ‘stage 4’

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by Linda Straker

The week of 15 March 2020 saw the rise of Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, in particular the state of New York. It marked the turning point for most countries in the OECS countries, and by extension the members of Caricom.

From all indications, flights arriving at airports in the region came with passengers who had to clear Immigrations and Customs, but also sadly allowed entry to the islands with the permission of another immigration officer, the dreaded coronavirus which is causing the Covid-19.

Many will now question why our governments did not lock down ports of entry, and that itself has many arguments of economics, social and otherwise, but what is factual is that from all records, almost 80% of all index cases arrived in the OECS between 15–21 March. It was around the same time that the message of self-quarantine became the trend for all arriving passengers.

If the middle of March was our index week with self-quarantine, which few of these arriving passengers obeyed, that using a 14-day incubation period, it would be safe to say that as of 29 March 2020, Grenada and most other regional territories must be on the lookout for community transmission.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes community transmission as stage 3 of infection, and defines that stage as “when a person who has no travel history has contracted the infection through domestic sources.”

With all our ports of entry restricting the arrival of passengers, it will not be correct to describe future positive Covid-19 cases as imported (stage 1), import-related or local transmission (stage 2). Stage 4 of infection is when the disease is declared an epidemic.

Grenada should never reach stage 4, and for that to happen, we as a nation must comply with the Covid-19 regulations and stay in our homes.

More people need to be at home, which means we should not be expanding our essential service workers or giving special permission to any company to operate full staff for the next 14 days if we are to achieve this goal of NOT arriving at stage 4.

Maybe we have reached the stage where the regulations need to be updated and remove some of these essential workers from the list in the best interest of the country.

I cannot understand why restaurant workers are essential. We are home, so we should cook, and those who forgot how to cook or don’t know how to cook, call a friend on the phone and don’t be ashamed to ask for guidance. You will not die if you eat rice and chicken for 14 days. Throw in some peas, coconut milk, and other ingredients in the cook up.

Ask your grandmother or aunt how to make bakes. You don’t need bread from the bakery. Making such sacrifice is what is required of a patriot citizen so that we never reach Stage 4 of Covid-19.

Remember, Covid-19 entered the island without the permission of an immigration officer and it cannot be deported, but we can kill and bury it without a tombstone! Be patriotic. Kill Covid-19. Make the 14 days sacrifice for our future generations and the survival of this country.

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Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) offers help to vendors

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Vendors who are affected by the shutdown of vending operations and have perishable produce items in their possession, now have the opportunity to either sell the items to MNIB or store the items at MNIB‘s facility.

The River Road facility will be open from 9 am to noon on Sunday, 29 March 2020 to facilitate the vendors. Vendors can call 423-4965, 534-5701, or 419-0199 to make arrangement for delivery before showing up at the facility.

Any item the vendor wishes to sell should be of marketable quality and price should be discussed prior to delivery.

Deliveries will also be accepted from Monday to Friday between 8 am to 2 pm once prior arrangement has been made.

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Grenada confirms 2 more cases of coronavirus

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The Minister for Health has announced that 2 more laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed on mainland Grenada.

This brings the number of total confirmed cases of Covid-19 to nine. Of that number, one is an imported case, and the other is likely an import-related case, with relatives who were visiting from New York.

“The new cases are as follows: A 72-year-old female, who started experiencing symptoms on 20 March and was tested on 25 March. Since the onset of her symptoms, she has been under the care of a doctor. Healthcare officials are aggressively investigating, in an effort to determine the exact point of contact, as well as potential mass exposure, given that the relatives arrived on a flight from NY on 17 March.”

Healthcare officials do not yet know the exact point of contact for this particular case, but are operating under the assumption that all of the foregoing are real possibilities, just to be safe. The Minister stated that once that information is available, the public will be informed.

“The second case is a 50-year-old male who was on the same flight from the United Kingdom on 16 March, sitting within a 6-foot radius of our first confirmed case, and several of the other cases that were confirmed two days ago on 26 March. Both individuals, as well as the other cases previously announced, are all exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms.”

The minister also gave reports on testing, citing that 9 people have been tested positive so far, and 35 negative, with none pending, but with the developments now, we anticipate that this will change overnight.

“The pending cases are all under surveillance so as to contain further spread of the disease. The testing included people who we have been found through contact tracing, as well as people who had ailments, such as respiratory issues.”

With increasing numbers of cases, CARPHA has been working with Grenada and the rest of the region to deliver results in as timely a manner as possible. This is why, now that numbers are increasing, the healthcare team is sparing no effort in contact tracing to determine points of contact, as well as to ascertain the possibility of community spread.

In terms of quarantine and isolation measures, the ministry continues to rigorously enforce those. Several entire households are presently under quarantine, and the RGPF has been asked to further tighten their surveillance mechanisms to rigidly ensure that people are observing the rules. The ministry remains vigilant.

The ministry’s medical team, led by Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr Shawn Charles, has been working tirelessly on actively following up with contact tracing since our first case, and even more so after our next 6 cases were confirmed 2 days ago. Health officials have already moved to isolate and monitor several others, who were in close contact with any of the cases. This will continue for the next 14 days, at least. All confirmed cases are being reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and Pan American Health Organisation Organisation.”

The minister urged the public to report or inform the Ministry of Health or nearest health facility, of any possible, or suspected individuals displaying acute respiratory symptoms at this time.

Minister Steele asked that anyone who believes he or she is exhibiting symptoms of the virus, not to leave their house or take public transportation, and instead, should call the health hotline at 538 4787 or 458 4787.

In closing, the Minister of Health emphasised again, that the entire population must continue to rigidly observe the practices and precautions necessary to contain the spread of Covid-19, here in the State of Grenada.

“A Limited State of Emergency is in place to safeguard the population from further spread of the virus. Failure to comply with those measures is potentially fatal to the general population. For every one person who contracts the disease, potentially dozens more are exposed and vulnerable. Do the math.”

He implored the public to be their brother’s keeper because an individual’s actions can potentially have life or death consequences for someone else. The Minister of Health again urged the public to wash hands frequently; practice proper cough and sneeze hygiene; refrain from touching their eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands. “It is extremely critical that you also maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. Those are simple measures you can take daily to do your part to curb the spread of Covid-19.”

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