A mother is claiming that her hearing-impaired daughter, a student at the St George secondary school, has not been taught since the new school term in the absence of a dedicated interpreter at the institution to assist her.
This afternoon, the frustrated mother came to Barbados TODAY desperately seeking public attention as a last resort, after she said her numerous requests for an urgent meeting with top education officials were turned down.
Cheryl Chandler’s nightmare started in September when her 17-year-old daughter Nikita Chandler, an upper fifth student at St George Secondary, where she is the first hearing-impaired student, turned up for the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year to find that there was no interpreter to sign her lessons to her.
The student has had an interpreter since she entered the school in second form at 12-years-old after sitting the 11-plus examination in 2010, and has performed exceptionally well, placing first in class on numerous occasions.
In an effort to rectify the situation, the mother said she visited the Ministry of Education on Constitution Road, St Michael, where she met with the Special Needs Education Officer, and also a social worker.
However, they both informed her that the Ministry could no longer afford to fund an interpreter.
“This is Nikita’s final year and there is no interpreter at the school. She had an interpreter from second form to fifth form. I went to the Ministry on numerous occasions and spoke to officers and all I am hearing is there is no money.
“I tried to get an appointment set up to meet with the Chief Education Officer [Laurie King] since the 10th of September and up to now no one has given me a call, and I tried calling back and spoke to his secretary and she said he hasn’t given her the time yet.
“I feel like I am being pushed around and in the meantime my daughter is not being taught. What am I supposed to do with my child? The Government promised to look after her in the inclusion programme and now she is just here being left behind,” Chandler lamented.
The mother said while she was aware that there were no teachers at the school who could sign the lessons to her daughter, the hearing-impaired student, who successfully completed one CXC with a Grade 2 passes earlier this year, was currently attempting to recover work through copying notes from other students which she most often did not understand.
According to the mother, that method was not enough to help her child.
“She needs the extra help from an interpreter. The teachers there are not teachers that could sign,” she said.
She continued: “I am not blaming the school because I know there is no interpreter there and they can only do so much. There is nobody to sign to Nikita. I want help for my daughter. She has been doing well at school so they cannot say that she is wasting the Government’s money. They promised to help her when she was going in and I would like them to please help my child to finish.”
The story of the student who wants to become a chef was highlighted in the October 5, 2011 edition of this newspaper, in which she spoke about how she had comfortably settled in at the school which is located in Constant, St George.
Prior to secondary school, the student attended the Irving Wilson School and took classes at St Paul’s Primary school where her lessons were signed for her as she prepared for the 11-plus exam.
Efforts to contact the Chief Education Officer today proved futile.