Colombia university, Mico partner in diploma to aid disabled groups
A group of students from Colombia is in Jamaica, visiting a number of organisations and institutions which cater to persons with intellectual and physical challenges as part of their coursework for a graduate diploma.
The Graduate Diploma in Inclusion and Intercultural Education is being offered through a partnership between La Cooporación Universitaria Iberoamericana in Bogotá, Colombia, and The Mico University College (TMUC) in Kingston.
The seven-month course was officially launched on October 25 to equip educators in Jamaica and Colombia with the skills and competencies to cater to the needs and foster inclusion of special needs students into mainstream activities in the education system.
The programme is being offered through the School of Graduate Education at The Mico, with strong support from the Department of Special Education in the Faculty of Humanities and Education at The University of the West Indies, Mona, and will also focus on the importance of intercultural understanding in the education system.
The Colombian team, which includes a deaf participant, Yuly Carolina Santos, did a complete school immersion at the Mico Practising School on Wednesday, visited the Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf and the Hope Valley Experimental School on Thursday and spent some time at the Randolph Lopez School of Hope on Friday.
Through these interactions, Santos said she observed that there were various efforts by the Government, public institutions and private organisations, working separately to improve disability care across many platforms.
“Today, we visited an institution (Randolph Lopez School), where inclusion was evident. However, there is still need for there to be integration with the rest of society, so that people who do not have disabilities can be made more aware of the challenges,” she told The Gleaner.
“The big difference between the countries (Jamaica and Colombia) lies in the time that they have been advancing the integration process. This does not mean that it is better or worse in either country, but simply that they are at a different time in history. In Colombia, for instance, we have interpretation services in the public services, education, culture and sports. So it is an inclusive society and the provision of these services means that people and systems are in place to provide the necessary support services,” she added.
Santos opined that successful interaction with any social group depends a lot on their attitude, adding that the process will be hindered by those who do not have a favourable attitude towards communication and diversity.
Pointing out that in Colombia the inclusion policy establishes that all people must have minimum training in sign language, she said that she had gone beyond that by developing competency in the written word.
She also had some praise for the local systems.
“In Jamaica, there are foundations and special education schools that have [been tailoring] training that help their children, using various strategies to reach them. It only needs to be possible to bring this experience to all the people so that diversity is normalised,” she recommended.
As she continues to advance her training as a special education professional, the Colombian is enjoying her stint in Jamaica.