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50 special-needs teachers to be placed in schools

Published:Monday | August 12, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

DESCRIBING IT as an historic initiative, Chairperson of the Childhood/Special Education Committee at the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA),Dr Polly Bowes-Howell, has announced that 50 special-needs teachers will be placed in several schools across the island, come September.

"Last year, we made the greatest move in the area of teacher training. For the first time in the history of this country, the JTA, in consultation with the Ministry of the Education and the Nova Southeastern University, offered a certificate in advanced training in special education to 50 teachers and they were all given scholarships.This has never happened in the history of Jamaica," Bowes-Howell said.

She added: "So, now there are 50 classroom teachers who have never been exposed to special education, who when they go back to school, will be able to identify children with learning challenges and they will also be able to make their classrooms more inclusive. We are expecting great things from this initiative."

Periodic assessment

Bowes-Howell also pointed out that there will be periodic assessments to ensure that there is consistency and quality of service.

"We will be going back out there (schools) for post assessments, to see if some of what they have learnt have been applied, just to ensure the sustainability of the programme, because we can't depend on the ministry alone and we can't ignore our children because of excuses," she told The Gleaner.

She added: "We are counting our blessings because everything won't happen all at once, but I must confess that strides are being made, especially for the new academic year, and we are grateful."

In the meantime, she urged that schools provide special programmes that will aid children emotionally.

"There have been a number of shooting incidents taking place in various communities. So, come September, we have to ensure that the programmes are in place for these children, and most importantly ensure that they are inclusive," she said.

Special education involves the tailoring of the education programme to suit the needs of students in a way that accommodates the student's individual needs and differences. These differences can include physical disabilities and/or mental and intellectual challenges.