University gifts tablet to special needs student

Caption: FSTE Dean, Associate Professor Anjeela Jokhan with Mr Raya Narayan.

The University of the South Pacific is now actively engaging Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a pedagogical tool for students with special needs.

The Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE), Associate Professor Anjeela Jokhan, officially handed over a tablet to a student with special needs on Thursday 15 August, 2013.

Mr Raya Niranjan, a hearing and speech impaired student, is enrolled in two units – CS111 and IS121 – of the Certificate in Computing programme at the School of Computing, Information and Mathematical Sciences.

On 10 April, 2013, in line with the Strategic Plan 2013 ? 2018, the University?s Academic Senate approved the Disability Inclusiveness Policy, which culminated from a long process of collaboration between the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning, Teaching & Student Services) via Campus Life with various stakeholders including students, staff, disability groups, members of the USP community, senior management and development partners/donors particularly Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

The Disability Inclusiveness Policy aims at assisting students and staff with special needs to undertake and succeed in their studies.

?One of the ways the University has tried to address this issue is to invest quite heavily in assistive technology so that students regardless of their location or their physical limitations are able to access learning resources and materials and have a good learning experience as they study at USP,? Dr Jokhan said.

She said this is just one example of FSTE initiatives, with Raya being located where USP does not have a campus and his disabilities.

?It would greatly assist him, and because the device also has internet connectivity capability, he will, if and when he gets the chance, use that to communicate with us as well.?

She said the University generally provides support to larger groups of students, but when it comes to an individual student requiring support, USP does its very best to attend to every individual?s needs as best as possible, adding ?It?s about the value we put in each and every student?.

FSTE?s proactive campaign to provide assistive technology to the special needs student was spearheaded by the Dean and Associate Dean Learning & Teaching, Associate Professor Bibhya Sharma.

Group Manager of USP Campus Life, Mr Glenn Pope said, ?I think it is a good example of seeing USP and FSTE acknowledge individual needs, in this case a disability student and provide him with technology that will hopefully help him complete his studies successfully?.

According to Mr Pope, with the Disability Office actively engaging with students, and the University making headway with infrastructural changes, USP has the opportunity to better attract students with limitations.

The University in the past two years has made infrastructural changes to the Laucala campus, such as the building of ramps next to steps and staircases, for better accessibility for physically disabled students.

He said the University is now looking to remove physical barriers in not just Laucala but all its other campuses, by reviewing the curriculum, teaching styles, and support services required for individual students with disabilities to attend class.

Through proactively and strategically collaborating with the Disability Resource Centre, the three faculties as well as other University sections and throughout its regional campuses are vital in transforming USP into a champion of disability inclusiveness.

The University is committed to providing a comfortable learning and teaching environment for all its students and staff and strives to be a leading provider of disability inclusiveness in Pacific tertiary education.

For enquiries, please contact: Ms Raijieli Bulatale, Manager, Disability Resource Centre, Laucala Campus, USP, at email: raijieli.bulatae@usp.ac.fj or phone: 32321832.

USP