Feb 27, 2012 News
The Diplomatic Corps handed over a new building yesterday to the New Amsterdam Special Needs School in Vryman’s Erven that would greatly ease the growing student population at the institution.
Several foreign diplomats, including Suriname’s Ambassador to Guyana and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Dr. Manorma Soeknandan, Ambassador of Brazil, Luiz Gilberto Andrade, and His Excellency Dario Morandy, Venezuelan Ambassador, were present to do the official handing over.
Headteacher of the Special Needs School, Ms. Crandon, noted the struggles endured by the institution which caters to the needs of over 100 children from the town. The school was established in 1986 by the Rehabilitation Committee and had been previously housed at the Lion’s Den in the town.
As the population increased, so did the need for a new building. However, in 1993, the Lion’s Club District 60, along with Future’s Fund embarked on constructing a new building to house the special- needs children. The present building that houses the school was donated by the New Building Society (NBS). It was handed over to the Ministry of Education in 1996 by former President Janet Jagan.
Crandon noted that from its inception to the present, the school has made significant strides, including a vibrant feeding programme that caters for the children of the school, a computer lab with combination chairs and six months internet access compliments of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), new toilet facilities, filing cabinets which were all donated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Over the years, several Peace Corps Volunteers were attached to the school to work with students, teachers, parents and guardians. She stated that the children have participated in several events such as Para-Olympic Sports, Rotary day of sports, Symposiums, Camps, workshops and Children Costume Competition.
“As the awareness of disability heightened, so has the number of children who are being sent to the school and as such, special accommodation decreased.”
A promise was therefore made by the Corps during a visit to the school to construct an addition to the existing building. “This project took more than a year to be completed”, she revealed.
Ambassador Soeknandan, in her remarks, said that the project took one year and seventeen days. “The annex is about 1200 square feet and can house four classes in such a way that you can open it (the classrooms) and get two big spaces for classrooms”. She expressed thanks to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) for making many of the construction items used for building, tax exempted and also the Berbice River Bridge Company Limited (BRBCI) for waiving the bridge tolls so that vehicles could transport the items to the school.
The project endured several setbacks due to the flooding, since the Vryman’s Erven area is always prone to severe flooding every time it rains. “But finally, we are here and all of us should be happy”, she said. “The children here (in the old building) can move over and have the new part and they can have two separate parts….and proper lighting is very important for school children because it affects their eyes and learning abilities”. “In a classroom like this it is very difficult to attend to each child if one group is hearing what the teacher from the other group is telling her pupils, so if you have the separation, you can have more attention for the children and in the end, the outcome is much better”.
Ambassador Soeknandan said that the children who are on the waiting list to attend can now be taken in. There are over 45 children currently on the list to attend the Special Needs School and the new building will greatly assist in that regard.
She urged parents who have children in the school “to also get more actively involved in the education of their children which also means getting more involved in the maintenance of the building, because, in the end the child spends more hours in the school than the home.”
“This school should be a pleasant place for the child, and the parents, every weekend, can do some weeding and maintenance. It will help the children, and it means that the schools do not have to be dependent on the government”.
A plaque was unveiled and the ribbon on the doors to the building was cut after which the keys were handed over to the Principal.
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