Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Deaf children being kept away from school – JAD

Published:Thursday | November 14, 2019 | 12:05 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Kimberley Sherlock Marriott-Blake, executive director, Jamaica Association for the Deaf, addresses the association’s annual general meeting at Lister Mair Gilby High School in Papine St Andrew, on Tuesday. Looking on is Christopher Williams, chairman.
Kimberley Sherlock Marriott-Blake, executive director, Jamaica Association for the Deaf, addresses the association’s annual general meeting at Lister Mair Gilby High School in Papine St Andrew, on Tuesday. Looking on is Christopher Williams, chairman.

A number of deaf and hard-of-hearing children are being kept out of specialised schools by their parents, potentially denying them of much-needed education, according to Kimberley Sherlock Marriott-Blake, executive director of Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD).

“One of the things that we know as a fact is, you’ll always have a child who needs special education, and we know that there are a number of children being identified as having hearing loss but are not going to school. You will have students who could benefit from deaf education placement, but the parents are afraid, or they have made the decision to keep the child close to home.,” she said.

Marriott-Blake was speaking to The Gleaner yesterday after the JAD’s 38th annual general meeting, held at the Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf in Papine, St Andrew.

Responding to questions about deaf schools across the island, the JAD executive director indicated that currently, all schools managed by the organisation are undersubscribed, with one having to shutter its doors in recent times.

“We recognised that there are very few schools for the deaf across the island. We don’t believe we need more schools because our current schools are functioning at 50 per cent capacity. The percentage capacity that I mentioned in the JAD report doesn’t take into consideration the other schools for the deaf.

“We know that across the board, we are looking at a 50 per cent capacity, which means adding an additional school would be less beneficial than putting students into schools as they exist now. We’ve actually seen the closure of one of the schools for the deaf. The Maranatha School for the Deaf has closed its door because of the dwindling population,” Marriott-Blake said.

According to the JAD 2017 to 2019 report, enrolment across its five schools has fallen from 284 in the 2015-16 school year to 247 in the current academic year.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com