Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites, says the continued development of programmes to assist children with special needs is important in nation building.
“These children deserve as much attention, in fact, even more than children without challenges… The Ministry would like to help more and more and to sensitize all schools, all parents and the nation in fact, so that we appreciate more and give more of ourselves to the rewarding task of helping those with special needs,” he told JIS News today (May 18) following a tour of Genesis Academy in Kingston.
“It validates our culture and raises the dignity of the whole society when we take care of those who have special needs,” he added.
Situated at 38 South Camp Road, Kingston 4, the school specializes in teaching students with intellectual disabilities. It offers a comprehensive curriculum with a mixture of academic and work experience opportunities, tailored for the students’ needs.
Mr. Thwaites said he is impressed with the students’ writings, designs and art work and used the opportunity to commend the teachers and parents, who have been playing their part in ensuring that upon leaving the institution, they will be able to contribute effectively to nation building.
He also commended the sponsors, who have assisted in the development of the institution since inception. “The Ministry is a minor partner in this instance because it has been the generosity of so many companies and the extraordinary gift of so many talented persons on the board of directors, along with the staff,” he said.
Founder and Principal, Pauline Beaumont, said the institution is focussed on both theory and practical areas to ensure that the students are equipped with the necessary prerequisites to function in society, when the graduate.
“We have the academics but we recognise the need for the children to have skills too in order to equip them for later life so we have data operations, art and craft – jewellery making etcetera, and we have food preparation. We also offer therapy – speech, occupational, art and music – because these are essential parts of the students’ development,” she said.
In existence since 2005, Genesis Academy caters to students from 12 to 21 years of age. Approximately 75 students are currently enrolled at the institution.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter