The Ministry of Education and the Secretariat of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) brought the issues of learning difficulties and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) under closer examination at a special seminar held today at the Pegasus Hotel.
The seminar, which had the attendance of senior education officers, teachers, cadet officers, mainstream teachers and those attached to special schools was executed in collaboration with the G. Halley Marville Trust and facilitated by Educational Psychologist, Dr. Ysanne Marville and Mr. Craig Shirley, Integrative Therapist and OCD Specialist.
In order to understand learning difficulties and OCD, Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, said that there needs to be inclusive learning, teaching and research attitude and culture to enable students, staff and stakeholders to develop their full potential and ultimately contribute to the challenges of this day.
According to Minister Henry, having a learning disability means that a person finds it harder to learn certain life skills. She noted that this may include aspects, such as learning new things, communication, reading, writing or even personal care.
However, the Education Minister noted that disability should not be confused with inability. According to her, “It does not in any way suggest that the person is incapable of learning. No! This only implies that they may learn at a slower rate or pace. While some people are born with a disability, others may develop one as a result of an accident or illness in childhood. And you must agree with me time and unforeseen occurrence can befall any of us.”
She said that with the right support, persons with learning difficulties can live full and meaningful lives. She said that if this support is not provided, those persons may face problems in gaining independence or a home of their own, in accessing leisure and recreation activities and or in developing friendships and relationships.
Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development at CARICOM, Dr. Douglas Slater said that parents of children with learning disabilities navigate the path of education and independence differently.
He said that all children need care and attention as they learn and develop. Dr. Slater said that parents and their children with special education needs if unrecognised can be affected in education and the quality of life experiences that they will have.
He went on to say that the CARICOM Human Resource Development Strategy 2030 recognises the need to deliberately design regional education systems that promote access and participation in quality, relevance and equity in education.
Meanwhile, Vice-Chairperson of the G. Halley Marville Trust, Ms. Janis Marville said that the Trust is a registered charity in Barbados and was birthed last year to address mental health issues and OCD.
She said that the primary objective of the Trust is to support the social and emotional well-being of children and young people and aims to channel the silence surround mental health by placing particular focus on OCD.