Increased attention needed for special education - Senator
Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
With a growing number of disabled persons having need for further education and not being able to access it, coordinator of the Centre for Disability Study at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Senator Floyd Morris, has made a charge to have programmes strategised and implemented for the proper integration and intellectual development of those with special needs.
Morris, who was speaking at a literacy symposium held at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) yesterday, stated that there needs to be several programmes to facilitate the disabled. Among those he noted were institutional education to involve homeschooling, as well as mainstream education, which is having those with special needs in a residential facility taken to a formal education institution. The senator also said there needs to be an inclusive model where the disabled stayed at home and attended any institution of their choice. This, he said, was ideal for the society.
"I'm a pragmatist, there are different types of disabilities, some mild, some severe. It is best if they are catered for individually in the general education system. Also, the curriculum should be as closely linked to that which is being taught in the general education system," Morris said.
MORE TO BE DONE
Living with a disability himself for several years after being diagnosed with glaucoma at the age of 14, becoming blind and enduring much failure and hardship to get through school to the point where he has completed his master's and is currently a PhD candidate, Morris alluded to the efforts of the Ministry of Education, but stated there was still more to be done.
"The Ministry of Education has established a special disabilities unit, facilitating learning for primary- and secondary-level students. They are currently preparing special policy to govern and treat education for special needs," said the senator.
With a number of training teachers present at the symposium in an effort to better learn about disabilities as well as how to identify, manage and deal with it, Morris reiterated that the onus was on them to ensure that those in the classroom understand how to treat and relate to those with disabilities and not let them feel like outcasts.
He further mentioned the importance of exercising patience when imparting knowledge and anticipates a bill to be tabled in Parliament in March of this year that will facilitate the education of all disabled persons.