Dominican Republic Reflections - Dimetri Brandon

Reflections on the Dominican Republic

by Dimetri Brandon

I had a great experience going on the study abroad trip that examined Higher Education in the Dominican Republic. As an education major, I learned a lot of new valuable information visiting different public and private schools around the Dominican. I believe there is a significant lack of access, equity and opportunity in the DR, especially for students with disabilities. In the DR one major observation I made during my time there was the lack of access for students with mental and physical disability in their schools. This also caused a loss in equity and opportunity for students with disabilities. On one of the days when we visited a school, I noticed a lack of wheelchair accessible ramps and elevators. While looking around at this particular school I made an observation that lead me to ask a question to our guide during the tour of the school. “If a student has a mental or physical disability, what protocols or procedures are put into place?” The guide responded honestly to my question and explained that often, due to the lack of resources, students with mental and physical disabilities are sent to different schools where they can accommodate to their needs. As an education major at Ohio State, we often talk about the importance of creating an inclusive environment in our schools no matter their race and disability. It was interesting for me to see in a third world country like the DR how they don't put an emphasis on an inclusive environment especially with students with disabilities. I am in no way saying the United States schools' systems are perfect at creating an inclusive environment, but I do believe though that the DR could do a better job giving students with disabilities an opportunity to attend schools that everyone else does. Students in the DR lose access to an equal education since they are sent away to a special school where the teachers might not be as qualified. I really thought this experience on the lack of inclusiveness for students with disabilities in the DR really helped me understand how important it is to incorporate that into the school I teach at to create an equal opportunity for everyone.