Mandatory Course in Special Education

Posted: 02.24.2014

Mandatory Course in Special Education

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites (right), is welcomed by Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board Member, Leo Gilling, at the opening ceremony of the Diaspora Education Summit, which is being held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay from February 18 to 21, under the theme: 'Advancing education initiative: A strategic alliance with the Diaspora'. At centre is the Senior Secretary, Administration and Finance, Jamaica Teachers' Association, Mrs. Lorraine Judith Spencer-Jarrett.
Beginning this September, a mandatory course in Special Education is expected to be included in the curriculum of teachers’ colleges across the island.

Making the announcement on February 20, Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said heads of teachers’ colleges have been instructed to incorporate the course as part of the Government’s increased focus on special education.

“We expect that by the end of 2015, we will have at least 30 per cent of our schools with access to teachers who have some training and disposition towards special education,” the Minister said.

He was addressing the second phase of the Jamaica Diaspora Education Summit, held at the Cedar Grove Academy in St. Catherine.

Rev. Thwaites said that having a mandatory course and providing more special education teachers, especially at the early childhood level, is vital, as “the sooner the child’s challenge is identified, whether it be social, physical, emotional or psychological, the easier it is, and the less expensive it is for therapy.”

The Minister noted that with this measure and others being instituted, “we will be able to track a 10 per cent improvement annually in the number of our early childhood graduates, in terms of their readiness for Grade 1.”

“We are 30 per cent or so below the mark now and we need to close that gap in no longer than three years,” he pointed out.

In the meantime, Rev. Thwaites noted that the Jamaica Diaspora, through their various affiliations, can assist the Government in enhancing the capacity of local institutions in the delivery of special education.

“Diaspora members, you can help us in this regard, because the institutions with which you are connected very often have this capacity that you can spare us for a summer, or for a sabbatical term,” he said.

The summit, being attended by 50 Diaspora delegates from across the world as well as other representatives from various sectors of the Jamaican society, is being held from February 18 to 21 under the theme: ‘Advancing education initiative: a strategic alliance with the Diaspora’.

A collaborative effort among the Jamaica Diaspora, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Education, and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, the summit was born out of the 5thBiennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, held in Montego Bay in 2013.

The main objectives of the summit are: to discuss ways to improve education in Jamaica, understand the goals of each organization that advocates for education, identify their projects, determine any overlap or duplication, recognize gaps, and leverage past successes.

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