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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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Canada to provide biometric processing for visa applications in Grenada – NOW Grenada

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NOTICE: DATES HAVE BEEN EXTENDED

The Government of Canada, in partnership with the Government of Grenada, is pleased to announce that Canadian officials have extended the dates and will be in Grenada from Monday 18 to Friday 22, November 2019 to carry out biometric processing for persons wishing to obtain visas.

As part of the visa application process, Grenadian nationals must provide biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) when applying for a Canadian visitor visa, study, work, or temporary residence permit, or for permanent residence. During the upcoming November dates, Grenadian visa applicants may take the opportunity to provide biometric information in Grenada rather than travelling abroad.

If you are planning to travel to Canada for study, business, tourism, family reunions or other reasons, please complete your online visa application as soon as possible in order to take advantage of this opportunity in November. Canada is pleased that officials will be able to travel to meet applicants on-site at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort in November, and it is hoped that this eased convenience will be fully taken advantage of. Outside of this visit, standard procedures remain for Grenadian nationals to travel to biometrics collection points in Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, or Trinidad and Tobago at all other times.

This exercise is geared towards the following individuals:

  • Grenadians who anticipate travel to Canada;
  • Persons who have already applied whether online or by mail for a visa, work or study permit or for permanent residence and have received their Biometric Instruction Letter; and
  • Nationals of other biometric information-required countries residing in Grenada planning to travel to Canada.

In order to book an appointment for biometrics collection, please write to bdgtn@international.gc.ca referencing the visa application file number. Canadian officials will be pleased to assist applicants with both appointments and the required Biometrics Instruction Letter during the hours listed. Officials will not be collecting applications or biometric information from applicants who have not received this letter.

All applicants will be required to bring their Biometrics Instruction Letter with them in order to have their biometrics taken. The biometrics collection will take place from Monday, 18 November to Friday, 22 November 2019 from 8 am to 5 pm at Radisson Grenada Beach Resort, Grenada.

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Vincentian duo awaiting extradition hearing out on bail

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Anlee Parsons (left) and Hyah Browne being escorted by a police officer

Two Vincentians awaiting an extradition hearing to determine whether they should be deported to Grenada to be charged with the robbery of a credit union in Carriacou, have been granted bail.

Anlee Parsons, and Hyah Browne, represented by attorney Grant Connell gained freedom following the submission by their lawyer of an affidavit before the Serious Offences Court this week.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that there is contention expressed about the CCTV footage captured outside the Grenada Union of Teachers Credit Union (GUTCU) which authorities are claiming shows Parsons and Browne.

Additionally, it is said that there is also evidence that Browne, who works at the Central Sewage and Water Authority(CWSA), and Parsons, who works with a contractor, were signed in to work on the day of the robbery, October 11, 2019.

On Tuesday, November 12, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne asked Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche if he had any objection to the bail application.

Delplesche’s answer to this was no.

The chief magistrate commented that there were some interesting issues highlighted in the affidavit, but did not elaborate.

She set bail in the amount of $3000 with one surety, and ordered that the two Carriere residents report to the Mesopotamia police station every Monday, between 6am and 6pm.

They are to surrender their passports, and Identification Cards to the court.

In the interim, the prosecution awaits documents pending from Grenada for the extradition hearing on December 10.

Arrest warrants were issued in Grenada for Browne and Parsons before they were picked up by police on October 25. After being taken into custody, the duo were brought to court and had been on remand since, awaiting the extradition hearing.

The robbery of the GUTCU has shaken the usually peaceful Carriacou, “The Grenada Informer” reports.

The publication noted that, according to “lawmen” two men walked into the credit union on the said date, one armed with a gun. The men demanded money, after leading the workers to the back of the building, and putting a gun to the head of the security guard to lead him somewhere inside of the building.

Money was stacked into a bag. The amount which the two robbers who entered the GUTCU that day stole is $26,205.60, according to the charge that may be put to the two men.

The Grenada informer noted that there was a getaway vehicle awaiting the robbers, and the alleged driver of this vehicle has been charged with conspiracy to rob.

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Government concludes more union and staff associations negotiations – NOW Grenada

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Government’s Negotiating Team (GNT) has concluded negotiations with another trade union as well as the staff associations which represent prison and police officers.

The agreements with the Grenada Manual, Maritime and Intellectual Workers Union; Police Gazetted Officers Association; Police Welfare Association and Prison Officers Welfare Association were brokered during talks late Thursday and early Friday morning. The respective agreements will be signed on Monday.

All public officers represented by the unions and staff associations which have concluded negotiations, will benefit from annual increases of 4% for each of the years covered in the new collective labour agreement.

The 12% increase over three years is the largest settlement for public sector employees in the last 20 years. The overall cost of the settlement is $43.5 million which means government will have to undertake extensive reallocation to fund the agreed wage increases.

Another union, the Bank and General workers Union will seek the approval of its membership before agreeing to the proposed increases.

Agreement with the joint negotiating team from the Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) and the Public Workers Union (PWU) is still outstanding. The joint GTAWU/PWU team is demanding increases of 5% for each of the three years. This would add $59.6 million to the government’s wage bill, an amount which is not affordable or sustainable and which will breach the Fiscal Responsibility Law.

Additionally, effective January 2020, government is expected to meet the increase in NIS rates for all of its employees.

The GNT awaits the recommendations of the Labour Commissioner who is conciliating in the dispute. The GNT remains hopeful that there will be an amicable resolution.

The Grenada Union of Teachers has already signed its collective labour agreement with the GNT following the conclusion of talks earlier this week.

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