Tag Archives: The College of the Bahamas

Turning Four!

Not everyone is still willing to give persons with disabilities a chance four years after The PWD Forum came about.

In Indonesia for instance, disability is still regarded as a punishment from God. PWDs must be exorcised, tied up at the back of the house (dipasung), confined to a small hut in the backyard, or tied at the wrists and ankles to a tree or heavy log. Disability is also seen as a matter of fate so there is little empathy for PWDs for whom ‘nothing can be done’.

As such, PWDs are excluded from most governments’ planning and support. In Bhutan in particular, its educational policy lack inclusive policy guidelines resulting in unequal opportunities.  Taiwan, on the other hand, has only programs for PWDs with “mild” conditions and the curricula just followed what is being taught in preschool classes.

In South Africa, teachers lack skills and knowledge. In South Korea, teachers know no culturally relevant curricula. In Malaysia, teachers are unprepared in terms of emotional acceptance and technical skills.

It is no wonder then that PWDs are still berated when seeking employment or at work; employers would definitely incur costs from hiring PWDs. Educating them alongside non-PWDs  would not be an easy feat especially that the term ‘inclusion’ itself has no fixed definition even in the western countries from which this concept was realized.

There are also parents who do not understand the meaning of inclusive education till now. Thus, the parents are still anxious with their children attending mainstream schools. Even governments are not sure what the concept really means and how it could be relevant within the local context.

If PWDs and non-PWDs study together, though, there would be no need to build exclusive educational institutions. Adjustment may also come naturally. Maricel Apatan had not been a burden anyway when she was studying a two-year course in Hotel and Restaurant Management in Cagayan de Oro City. She was even hired as a pastry chef at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Manila.

A polio victim, Marc Joseph Escora, had managed his training at the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center (NOLITC) in Bacolod City. Blind, Safiya Mundus had graduated from the Eusebio C. Santos Elementary School.

The PWD Forum could just imagine what else could have happened had Arnel Navales Aba, Godfrey Esperanzate Taberna, Emilia Malinowska, Jose Feliciano, and Mohamed Dalo finish school. Townsely Roberts had at The College of the Bahamas with an associate degree in Accounting and Computer Data Processing in 1995. Gary Russell had, too, at the same college with an associate degree in Law and Criminal Justice then at the University of Buckingham for his bachelor’s and master’s.

It was from his blind father that former interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo learned discipline. Protecting the integrity and honor of one’s family is of highest importance, his father had said, and children are expected to contribute their share in doing that. So Jesse launched the “Fully Abled Nation,” a program seeking to increase the participation of PWDs in the coming 2013 Philippine midterm elections, roughly three months before he died in a plane crash.

“Hopefully, one day, the notion behind “persons with disability” be somehow erased from the world’s vocabulary and usher-in a day when technology, private & public organizations, and the law work together to give each person equal rights and opportunities, regardless of the person’s impediment.” ~ Atty. Mike Gerald C. David

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Jozelle Tech

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Townsely Roberts & Gary Russell

The Bahamas has two citizens one may not consider persons with disabilities: Townsely Roberts and Gary Russell.

Roberts is an accountant. He graduated from The College of the Bahamas in 1995 with an associate degree in Accounting and Computer Data Processing before getting employed by the company that owns Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza for the next 20 years as an accountant manager.

His greatest benefit was the support of his mother and teachers. Her mother who just listened when the doctor told her that Roberts had to have his left leg above the knee amputated (a peanut butter and jelly jar had been thrown at the back of Roberts’ knee when he was five) and his teachers who refused to just let him sit in a corner while his classmates learn playing basketball, softball, and soccer.

Today, the former president of the Bahamas National Council for Disability (BNCD) is focused on helping other PWDs have employment in the country. He is one of those who believed that the Bahamian public must be educated “on the realities of what disability is.”

Russel is the current chairman of The Music Makers Junkanoo Group and the senior examiner of the Bahamas Compliance Commission. Right after his bones were fractured in a severe car accident when he was 23, Russell went back to his previous job in Marketing and Sales. He even became its acting general manager until the company closed. He pursued Law at The College of the Bahamas after that with an associate degree in Law and Criminal Justice then his bachelor’s and master’s at the University of Buckingham.

Prior to that, Russell worked as a chef from 1979 to 1986 and a sales marketer from 1986 to 1997. He got support from people “willing to accommodate him” all throughout then. He was taught to bathe himself, dress himself, cook for himself, climb in a cupboard, and drive.

Only the thought of not being to change quickly into a basketball gear as soon as he gets off from work tormented Russell. Still, he was able to participate at the Jackson Rehabilitation Centre in Miami. He is giving back to the culture of the Bahamas these days through the arts of Junkanoo, a Bahamian style of dance music that evolved from the traditional music of West Africa.

“It’s okay to fall. You got to learn how to fall. When you fail is how you learn, even the disabled.” ~Townsely Roberts

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNS Network