The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has advised that it has taken note of concerns that have recently been raised on social media regarding a reported case of discrimination against a minor with a disability.
While the ministry did not mention the incident in question, complaints of a wheelchair-bound child being reportedly denied a place in a prominent high school in St Andrew have recently surfaced on social media.
The child is said to have been placed in the high school out of the Primary Exit Profile (PEM) examination, but has reportedly been told that the institution cannot accept her, supposedly because of not being outfitted to accommodate persons with such physical disabilities.
The ministry, in a statement on Thursday, reminded members of the public that the Disabilities Act (2014) and its Regulations, which came into full effect on February 14, 2022, provide for the protection of persons with disabilities against discrimination in all forms, and that the provisions are enforceable by law.
The ministry also advised that the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) has been established as the lead public body to uphold and protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Jamaica. It said persons with disabilities who have experienced discrimination by virtue of their disabilities “are strongly encouraged to come forward and report their experiences to the JCPD, to enable the appropriate investigations into these matters.
A child with disability engages in a learning experience while using a tablet.
The statement said Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles Jr, is appealing to Jamaicans to treat persons with disabilities with the greatest level of care and respect, and to seek to ensure their full access to participation in all spheres of the society.
“We firmly believe that every person, regardless of their abilities, deserves to be treated with respect and fairness. There should be no limitation or prevention in accessing any social services, as this is a breach of human rights. Our society must be more accommodating to ensure equal access for persons with disabilities” said Charles Jr.
The ministry further said , through the JCPD, it will continue to raise awareness about disability rights while empowering persons with disabilities and the various stakeholder groups to continue advocacy to achieve greater inclusivity.
“The JCPD stands ready to assist individuals, employers and institutions in explaining the accessibility checklist available on the JCPD’s website at www.jcpd.gov.jm to help you to accommodate or make reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities,” advised the ministry.
Members of the Public are invited to report any incident of discrimination to the JCPD by contacting (876) 968-8373/968-0623/618-1133, or by visiting the Council’s offices at 10 Ripon Road, Kingston 5. The public is also invited to visit the JCPD’s Website at www.jcpd.gov.jm to learn more.