Morris wants disabled-friendly schools in every constituency
Opposition Senator Dr Floyd Morris has called on the Government to make one primary and high school in each of the 63 constituencies across Jamaica disabled-friendly.
Opening the debate on a motion in the Upper House yesterday, Morris urged the administration to make the institutions accessible to students with disabilities as a first step in dealing with the problem of limited access to public buildings, particularly educational institutions.
According to Morris, research done by the University of the West Indies Centre for Disability Studies in 2010 showed that 77 per cent of schools surveyed were inaccessible to persons with disabilities. The study included primary and high schools.
Many schools had ramps but not those designed to accommodate students with disabilities. Morris said that the ramps were constructed to provide access to the Nutri Bun trolleys that provide snacks to the schools.
Morris said that a 2014 World Bank study revealed that inaccessibility to educational institutions was a major contributing factor to poverty among persons with disabilities.
The senator, who is blind, argues that the Disabilities Act 2014 addresses the issue of accessibility by persons with disabilities to educational institutions.
"It makes it mandatory for these educational institutions to become accessible for persons with disabilities."
Constitutional rights breached
Morris pointed out that the law was passed in 2014, and three years later, the date of implementing the legislation was yet to take effect.
The opposition senator contends that the constitutional rights of persons with disabilities who cannot access schools, especially at the primary level, have been breached.
He commended the education minister, Ruel Reid, for pledging to allocate $50 million each year for the next five years to make schools accessible for persons with disabilities. However, he told Reid that it would cost about $10 million per institution to make schools disabled-friendly.
Morris also suggests that the Government should focus on making education institutions accessible for persons with disabilities for its national project for Labour Day 2018.