Cuban Ambassador to Guyana Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante is optimistic that the long-awaited training centre for children, adolescents and young adults with special educational needs associated with disabilities, will soon see its establishment. In an interview with Guyana Times on Wednesday, the Ambassador noted his enthusiasm for the development of the project.
“We are very enthusiastic to work with the authorities of Guyana because we are just pushing and working very hard to announce in this year of the 50th Independence of Guyana that this regional effort for this project will be developed,” he observed.
Marchante explained that in the first year of establishment, there will be 10 specialists who have been working on similar projects in Cuba; while in the second year, this number will increase to 12 individuals. The Ambassador further stated that at the beginning of the project, there will be periodical assessments while at the end, it will be decided how it should continue.
To this end, he observed that the project’s main objectives which will see the training of local and regional persons who will work with the special educational individuals. The Ambassador related that these trained specialists will attain the necessary qualifications to eventually assume operations from the Cuban specialists in future.
“It is considered that in the future, some members from Caricom (Caribbean Community) will come to the country (Guyana) to also receive this preparation to work,” the Cuban Ambassador further posited.
“I believe that it will be a very good project because of the human character of this project… specialists will work very closely with persons with disabilities,” he observed.
He commended the work of the National Commission on Disability but noted that there can be improvements in the area of registering more persons.
Ambassador Marchante noted that the relevant institutions such as the Education Ministry and the Public Health Ministry must all work together “to identify all the persons who have not been properly registered”.
The final purpose of this project is to give all the preparations to these persons [with disabilities] to be happy personally, in the family and in the context of the society,” he emphasised.
It has been explained that this project would integrate theoretical and methodological issues to guide good practices based on educational attention strategies and methodologies that involved different educational agents, such as special education teachers, schools and institutions.
It was in February that Government announced work was moving apace for the establishment of the training centre. Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman had disclosed that Cabinet had given the green light to conclude a cooperation and technical assistance agreement between the Caribbean Community, Cuba’s Education Ministry and the local Foreign Affairs Ministry. Trotman had noted that the agreement will pave the way for the establishment of the training centre.
The project was birthed at the Fourth Caricom/Cuba Summit held in Trinidad and Tobago in 2011 and at the 15th meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations held in Suriname in 2012. At this forum, Guyana agreed to undertake the lead role in the creation of the centre.
The Government at that time established an oversight committee which comprised representatives from the Caricom Secretariat and the Ministries of Public Health, Education, Human Services and Social Security, as well as the National Commission on Disability.
In an interview with Guyana Times back in 2014, Cuban Ambassador Marchante had stated that the special needs centre formed part of a total of nine projects proposed by Cuba that could potentially benefit Caricom countries once they saw them as necessary.
He opined that such a project could benefit Guyana tremendously since many Caribbean countries have expressed the challenges they face in dealing with youth living with disabilities and their ability to access specialised education.
The Cuban Ambassador said the centre in Guyana would be designed and piloted after the Latin American Reference Centre for Special Education in Cuba. The Centre there is one of the regional and international entities that provide quality education to children and youth with special needs.
The publication had also reported in 2014 that the centre would take approximately two years, four months to be completed and made functional, once it followed the five-stage implementation and conceptualisation plan proposed by Cuba.