Wed | Jun 3, 2020

Fight against learning disabilities gets a boost

Published:Friday | September 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM
GK Insurance (GKI) team members Andrew Leo-Rhynie (second right), general manager; Leona Remekie (right), assistant general manager – Business Support; and Chantelle Smith, personal lines associate at GKI Portmore branch; present Ascot Primary School Principal Mark Jackson (left) with five new computers,as Tarisha Senior, one of the students at the school tests out the machine.

The term 'learning disability' to many, unfortunately, is not something they can relate to or have an idea as to what it is - and most times, such cases in children go unnoticed or even ignored.This is because many children and adults with learning disabilities remain undiagnosed and continue through life without even being aware of their limitations.

These conditions, including difficulties with reading, mathematical reasoning, audio-visual interpretation and syntax, contribute to their failure in excelling in school, and later in life, to difficulties in the workplace.

To help address this issue, local insurance provider GK Insurance (GKI) has donated five all-in-one computer units to the Portmore-based Ascot Primary School for use in its resource room.

The room, designed to assist children with learning disabilities through interactive technologies, normally holds 38 students per session but had only five functioning computers with an additional 10 that are currently defunct.

GKI General Manager Andrew Leo-Rhynie said, "Education is critical for any country to excel, and early childhood education forms the foundation for the future. By playing our part in developing the infrastructure and helping to provide opportunities for them to grow means a world of difference because they, in turn, will make a world of difference."

Similarly, in providing better learning environments for children, the company also donated five air-conditioning units to the Alpha Infant School to finally complete a three-year project aimed at tackling the reported heat and allergy-related illnesses associated with its filled-to-capacity kindergarten classrooms.


Neurological Differences


Learning disabilities are neurological differences in the way the human brain processes, stores and communicates information. Some estimates suggest that over 10 per cent of the world's population is affected by a learning disability.

Mark Jackson, principal of Ascot Primary, estimates that about 20 per cent of the students at his school would fall into this category. He said "We are not fully proficient as teachers to say that a child has a learning disability, but sometimes, we detect that they learn at a slower pace and that a one-to-one session would help. Those are the students who would benefit most from these computers."

The school, which has a rich history in the performing arts, currently boasts a literacy level in the 90th percentile but has a struggling numeracy level that currently stands at 75 per cent.

Becoming aware of the warning signs of learning disabilities and getting children the necessary help early on can change the course of one's education dramatically. Proof of this is the particular case of a young boy with dyslexia and a reading deficiency at the school three years ago who has shown tremendous progress.

Jackson said, "He was in the reading programme and showed progress, but we didn't know that the progress was so great."

He continued," When he did the GSAT and his name was called [as passing] for Campion College, rather than jumping up, everybody froze and turned to each other. Even he himself froze. I had to call his name again, and then he ran around the entire school three times. Everybody was bewildered."

Jackson, who has headed the school since 2012, urged the use of technology in schools to assist with tackling learning disabilities. He said: "Educators have to find different ways to help children, and I realise technology, in terms of electronic devices, is what really appeals to students. You have to analyse your children and realise what appeals to them to boost and enhance their learning."