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Sam Sharpe Teachers' College opens diagnostic centre for at-risk students

Published:Saturday | October 27, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Education, Youth and Information Senator Ruel Reid (fifth left) and Custos of St James Bishop Conrad Pitkin (third right) unveil a plaque commemorating the official opening of the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College Diagnostic and Early Childhood Intervention Centre on Tuesday, October 23, as officials from the ministry, the college and supporting agencies applaud in approval.
From left: Chairman of Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College (SSTC) board of governors, Norman Reid; past student, now professor at Washington University, Dr Grethel Bradford; and current acting principal of SSTC, Dr Lorna Gow-Morrison, have good reason to smile as they and the many guests await the official opening of the Sam Sharpe Diagnostic and Early Childhood Intervention Centre on Tuesday, October 23.

There is hope for children deemed to be problem students at an early age, but who may be professionally diagnosed with various ailments that interfere with their ability to learn.

A diagnostic and early-childhood intervention centre is now in operation at the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College (SSTC), where it was officially opened on Tuesday, October 23, some 18 months after ground was broken on the college's campus in Granville.

Acting principal of SSTC Dr Lorna Gow-Morrison said the diagnostic and early-intervention centre "was established in an effort to meet the growing demands of children in western Jamaica to gain easier access to psycho-educational assessment so that proper interventions and monitoring services can be put in place".

According to her, too often, parents and caregivers were ignorant that academic challenges were sometimes the result of social, physical and emotional factors, and "as we focus on the PEP and other high-stake assessments, this centre will help parents understand that we are in the west to intervene and provide the best opportunities for success to our children".

The centre will utilise a multi-disciplinary team approach to provide children with direct access to clinicians, who will conduct psycho-educational assessment and developmental screening, as well as consultations with other professionals to address diagnostic questions and offer recommendation for appropriate intervention.

Dr Gow-Morrison announced that "a network of therapeutic services will also be offered, including physical and speech therapy, psychological counselling and remediation classes".

She said early intervention to at-risk children would be provided "to get it right" through targeted intervention tailored to meet identified needs. "This inclusive early-childhood programme would, therefore, provide an opportunity for students with and without special needs to learn and play together as they build academic, motor, social and emotional skills needed to ensure success at the early-childhood level and beyond."

The programme will not be confined to the rooms in which diagnosis and assessment of students will take place at the centre. Dr Gow-Morrison disclosed that the services will also go mobile. Recognising the extent of the need, she said "we are committed to increasing access to our services by providing a mobile service; this will see us transporting students to this site and also taking our services to sites, assessing needs, collating spread sheets and analysing data to determine further intervention."




Minister of Education, Youth and Information Senator Ruel Reid, who officially opened the centre, made a commitment to provide the first mobile unit, noting that there was a great need for the service.

The Sam Sharpe Diagnostic and Early Intervention Centre will also engage in research to identify and serve locations where the need exists. Additionally, it will serve as a training facility for student teachers as well as a practicum site for practitioners such as clinical psychologists, special educators and social workers, utilising a holistic and integrated approach to allow for the provision of quality, differentiated intervention for children.

"This centre will become a centre of empowerment, where seminars and other educational forums will be held to help stakeholders realise that exceptionalities are just another form of diversity and intervention is accessible," said Dr Gow-Morrison.

The centre was made possible through contributions from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, National Education Trust, Food For The Poor, and Programme for the Advancement of Childhood Education in Canada.