Economist Marla Dukharan.

It is circulating throughout many societies that Covid-19 provoked several dormant areas which, with the normal flow of life, would have been overlooked as simple or of little importance or consequence.

It would be difficult for anyone to imagine schools being out of session for such a long time. Covid-19 has placed its claws on the education system and has without doubt ripped deep into the flesh of those who were preparing for the SEA examination. The concern of these children must have been troubling.

Not to my knowledge or even in my lifetime have I seen such a confusing situation to prevent children from attending classes. I must admit that efforts to maintain some form of stability as regards to keeping children active and up to date with their school work would have been dealt with in a manner that is pleasing and satisfactory. A huge responsibility would have been placed on the parents and guardians of these children to ensure that very little vulnerability would step into the path of their goal, which is to work diligently towards seeking academic success.

Now, it is only fitting that I include the importance of children with disabilities.

It is interesting to note how we as a society tend to slip into the slow lane when it comes to disabilities. Somehow one might expect that Covid-19 would have propelled support as it pertains to children who are disabled. I am concerned about what methods and projects have been put in place to assist disabled children who are taking SEA exams. The protection and welfare of disabled students must be given equal importance for them to fulfil their dream to attain a higher level of education.

Over the years, a dread atmosphere loomed over the belief that children with disabilities were unable or incapable of coping with SEA exams. That fallacy should be removed from the minds of all who feel that way. As long as proper facilities and accessibility is in place then the sky’s the limit for these children.

The provisions available for these children must be made known in the event that a slow return to classes becomes possible. I have not seen or heard of any innovative moves that include these special children.

The good book stresses that the Lord calls all children unto him with no exceptions. He never said those with disabilities remain seated and the others come forth. We must remember that these children have the same aspirations as the so-called normal children and with the aid of modern technology, chances are they will be as competitive as possible.

The stigma attached to children with disabilities who take the SEA examinations must be castrated from the minds of all who feel they are incapable. The time has past when a child with a disability was treated with disrespect no matter the disability. Schools must now open their doors and welcome students with disabilities as long as they are capable of coping with the academic syllabus. The old way of thinking must stop. No more must prejudiced decisions be made to overlook the intelligence of a child because of a disability.

Time to remove the blinkers from the eyes of those who still feel that a disability is something to be ashamed of and should be debarred from going forward.

COVID-19 brought about a closer connection between children and their parents. If a child has a disability then the parent, after noticing the astuteness of the child, may pay much more attention to ensure that the child gets a sound start to a good future.

Research has shown that children with disabilities tend to do better at exams. I do not know if it is because they have a disability they tend to want to prove a point, which I think is a healthy attitude. If that is the case, open up the doors to their future.

Time has a way of settling and equalising things that might appear to be troubling. Children with disabilities, in this time of COVID-19, must be given the same opportunities that are presented to all students. If and when changes are made to adjust the teaching system, please include children with disabilities for they are children too.

I would like very much if the system could provide a more open approach to these children. It is not what is done but how it is done. Time to close the window of discrimination that is still lurking in our society against persons with disabilities, particularly the children. Compassion holds the key to the solution.

To all concerned, please remain balanced and encourage children with disabilities who take the SEA examination to be full of faith and with the aid of the Lord all will be well. The circle of opportunities keeps turning—all you have to do is grasp at it. In the spirit of growth.