Alphansus Davis becoming disabled friendly
Earlier this year, George Henry, the principal of Alphansus Davis High School, made headlines when the institution was compelled to request that the family of a child with a disability find an alternative school due to the lack of appropriate facilities to accommodate a wheelchair user.
However, just last week, the head of this Clarendon-based institution, formerly Spaldings High, said the the child has now been successfully enrolled at the school, thanks to the intervention of the Ministry of Education, which facilitated the installation of several ramps on the school's premises.
Henry recounted, "We had a student assigned to start school with us in September, but he needed a wheelchair for mobility. Unfortunately, we didn't have the necessary lifts and ramps in place to ensure his access to the classrooms. The family had concerns about our ability to accommodate the child, but any student placed by the ministry in any Jamaican school is our responsibility. We were determined to ensure that the child faced no more challenges than he already did, so the suggestion was made to help them find a school with wheelchair accessibility."
Following the negative publicity, Davis stated that the Ministry of Education promptly intervened, dispatching building officers the very next day to assess the situation. It was determined that a total of 35 ramps and seven lifts were required, with progress made on all 35 ramps to date.
"At the moment, the ministry is unable to provide the lifts, but the child is attending school and can access classes on the ground floor only. However, I am hopeful that the ministry will provide the lifts in the near future because a student like this one will face challenges as they move from grade seven and need to access upper floors," Henry remarked.
While showcasing the strategically placed ramps on the school's premises, Henry also pointed to a group of students engaged in building sets of desks and chairs as part of the Ministry of Education's school furniture project. Henry highlighted that besides providing an earning opportunity, this programme significantly benefits students as it offers them valuable first-hand experience through observation and practical involvement.
In the meantime, Alphansus High School is celebrating 50 years of existence and Henry said the population have grown significantly. He said more restrooms are now required.
"The school was started on a shift system to accommodate 500 students. The same amount of bathrooms that the school started with 50 years ago, in 1973, are the same bathrooms we have today. So you can imagine the type of confusion this causes from time to time. We have four bathrooms with the smallest accommodating two at a time and the larger ones accommodating about six at a time. Moving from 500 students on a shift system to an all-day school with 1,489 students, you can clearly see the problems we face," he said.