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Child Month Wishes | Quality teachers needed for early childhood and special education

Published:Sunday | May 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser
Gemma Gibbon

Another call has come for more attention to be paid to the training of teachers for the areas of early childhood and special-needs students.

Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie of the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust told The Sunday Gleaner that early stimulation and interaction with infants is necessary not only for the educational success of children but also as a means to identifying children with special needs.

According to Leo-Rhynie, increasing the educational outcomes for children can be achieved through quality teacher training.

"Teacher education must focus on preparing teachers to provide their students with exposure to quality early childhood, primary and secondary education, which will promote desirable cognitive, linguistic, physical, emotional and moral development and behavioural outcomes," said Leo-Rhynie.


Special-needs students


Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green agreed that equipping teachers should be a priority as he wished for more effective interventions for students with special needs.

"This we must do by providing our teachers with more support to effectively treat with students in whom special needs have been identified.

"We also have to ensure that we are identifying these needs at the earliest possible time so that effective interventions can be done. In this regard, the ministry in the short term will be implementing a four-year diagnostic assessment with the aim of identifying children with special needs," said Green.

For child psychologist Gemma Gibbon, special-needs students can be catered for through greater collaboration with educational psychologists.

"The minister of education needs to liaise with educational psychologists and actually research other countries with better, more modern educational policies and see how they are being implemented because it seems that no matter what they mandate nothing happens on the ground," said Gibbon.

In the meantime, Professor of Child Health and Development Maureen Samms-Vaughn argued that comprehensive and high-quality early-childhood development requires that equal attention be paid to literacy and numeracy and the socio-emotional support of children.

According to Samms-Vaughn, this can be achieved through the placement of quality teachers in the education system.

"This is facilitated by quality teachers, who are highly trained, have good emotional intelligence and warm responsive personalities. Such teachers can only provide this if they have classrooms that are not overcrowded.

"High-quality early-childhood development comes at a cost; new and innovative ways to resource the early-childhood development sector need to be identified," said Samms-Vaughn.