Sun | Jun 16, 2019

More men wanted as special-ed teachers – advocate

Published:Wednesday | March 13, 2019 | 12:23 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


Special-needs educator and trustee at the Jamaica Teachers’ Association Dr Polly Bowes-Howell is calling for more male teachers to be placed in the early childhood sector as gifted boys are increasingly becoming underachievers.

That exacerbates the general crisis in that sector as only 313 of Jamaica’s 23,000 teacher cohort are trained in special education, said Bowes-Howell, and only 154 of the 424 teachers working in special-education schools have specialist training.

“We don’t have enough special-needs teachers, and I am making a special appeal for more men. Look where our boys are. Many are in trouble. We are losing them because there is no control,” said Bowes-Howell in responding to a question from The Gleaner.

“Until we can bring our male figures back into our children’s life, we are going to be short. I am saying, we don’t have enough special-needs teachers because every classroom in this country should have access to a special education teacher,” added Bowes-Howell.

Bowes-Howell said that talented boys are hungry for nurturing and direction.

“We say they have attention deficit hyperactive disorder, and we find all kinds of labels for them. We need to take control. We need to bring our boys in, and we need more male teachers from the early childhood level to begin to nurture our boys,” she stated.

The educator said that special-needs vocation had low levels of teacher demand because it was not seen as attractive.

“We have created some barriers for ourselves, and I want us now to remove those barriers and build bridges, and I am standing firm on that as it takes a man to teach a boy how to be a man.”

“I am at VOUCH (Voluntary Organisation for the Upliftment of Children) doing screening. We did several schools, including Sylvia Foote Basic School, and when you look at the number of boys at that early stage of three years old we have identified with challenges, basic skills that a father should be interested in helping with.”