Plans for a Regional Training Centre for young people with disabilities moved a step forward today with the signing of an agreement by the implementing parties.
CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Carl Greenidge, and Cuba’s Ambassador to Guyana H.E. Julio Cesar Gonsalez Marchante signed a Tripartite Cooperation and Technical Assistance Agreement at a Ceremony held at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana. The Agreement is for the establishment of a “Regional Training Centre for Development and Stimulation of Children, Adolescents and Young People with Special Educational Needs Associated with Disabilities.”
Guyana will host the Regional Centre which will use Cuba’s extensive experience to assist CARICOM Member States to meet the special education needs associated with disabilities.
The project came out of a proposal at the fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit, two years ago, that Cuba would cooperate with CARICOM to create a Training Centre for the Treatment of Physical Disabilities to assist physically challenged children and youths. That CARICOM-Cuba summit came a year after a high-level Ministerial meeting in Haiti in 2013 where the Petionville Declaration recommended specific national and regional actions to address the needs of People with Disabilities.
The CARICOM Secretary-General in his remarks at the signing ceremony said:
“This project emphasises the interest of all parties to address a very important social and humanitarian challenge facing the Region. It aims to use Cuba’s extensive experience in this area to assist CARICOM Member States in improving the lives of a vulnerable sector of our population”
Read the Secretary-General’s full remarks:
As we celebrate CARICOM-Cuba Day on this 8 December, we do so in honour of one of the architects of this observance. With the recent passing of His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruz, OCC, Cuba has lost a national icon and the Caribbean Community has lost a true friend.
President Castro’s commitment to assist developing countries through the sharing of his country’s skills and expertise, made him such a treasured ally of our Region, that he is the only non-CARICOM recipient of our highest award, the Order of the Caribbean Community. Thousands of our citizens have benefitted in many ways from his dedicated friendship and that of the Cuban people to our Community. His friendship with the Community was rooted in his appreciation for the courage of the then four independent Member States of CARICOM in breaking the hemispheric diplomatic isolation of his country in 1972.
It is this historic event that we mark annually on this date which was designated CARICOM-Cuba Day by the Declaration of Havana in 2002, at the first Summit between our countries.
Two years ago today, in Havana at the Fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit, it was proposed that Cuba would co-operate with CARICOM in nine specific areas including “the creation of a Training Centre for the Treatment of Physical Disabilities to assist physically challenged children and youths”.
That Summit followed the year after CARICOM held a High-Level Ministerial Meeting in Haiti in 2013 to address the needs of People with Disabilities and Special Needs. The Petionville Declaration, issued by the Meeting, outlined specific recommendations for action at both the regional and national levels to move towards a more inclusive and equitable society and to serve this vulnerable group of citizens more effectively.
We undertook then to improve their access to social services and support, employment opportunities, sports, recreation and cultural activities, thereby promoting inclusion while supporting their aspirations to become productive citizens of their communities.
We also committed to promoting within our homes, schools and communities, a greater awareness of the needs of children and youth with disabilities. We agreed to develop and implement measures to ensure continued improvement in the home, the school and the community that assured their equal right to education and participation.
This “Regional Training Centre for Development and Stimulation of Children, Adolescents and Young People with Special Educational Needs Associated with Disabilities”, therefore, will go some way towards fulfilling the objectives laid out in that Declaration. This Regional Centre will be hosted here in Guyana.
We are pleased that we are about to sign the Agreement that will advance the implementation of this most desirable project.
This project emphasises the interest of all parties to address a very important social and humanitarian challenge facing the Region. It aims to use Cuba’s extensive experience in this area to assist CARICOM Member States in improving the lives of a vulnerable sector of our population.
It is fitting that this ceremony is taking place less than a week after International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed on 3 December.
On behalf of the Member States of the Caribbean Community, I wish to convey heartfelt gratitude to the Government and People of Cuba for their generosity and this demonstration of the solidarity between us. I also want to express my appreciation to the Government of Guyana for agreeing to host this regional centre. I look forward to working collaboratively with the Governments of Cuba and of Guyana to successfully implement this project which will serve as yet another hallmark of CARICOM-Cuba collaboration.