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  • Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is encouraging cooperation and partnership between private and public schools, to better serve special needs children.
  • Rev. Thwaites said catering to special needs students is one niche that the private schools could tap into, given that they are receiving less students from the GSAT cohort.
  • He noted that the Government is playing its role by dramatically increasing the budget for special and early childhood education.

Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is encouraging cooperation and partnership between private and public schools, to better serve special needs children.

“The public sector is not well equipped to offer those with exceptionalities. We need to combine and cooperate much more, to see how the existing institutions can comport themselves with specialised skills in order to ensure that those children with special needs, are adequately taken care of,” the Minister emphasized.

He was speaking at a special general meeting of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA), at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on October 9.

Representing Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, Rev. Thwaites said catering to special needs students is one niche that the private schools could tap into, given that they are receiving less students from the GSAT cohort.

He noted that the Government is playing its role by dramatically increasing the budget for special and early childhood education. “We need to do more and will try to do more next year and in succeeding years,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, addressing what he said was concern over the non-placement of students from this year’s sitting of the GSAT, in independent schools, Rev. Thwaites explained that, “the population has begun to taper down in terms of the birth rate and the public institutions have been expanding to a level (that) can now better absorb that cohort.”

He informed that several independent schools, faced with challenges, have in fact been approaching the Ministry for support, and seeking to restructure their operations for greater efficiency.

“The Ministry is always open to this. There is no admission of failure…there is no disgrace in this kind of approach,” the Minister said.

However, Rev. Thwaites said the government cannot subsidize inefficient institutions through the public purse. “What we need to do is look to new ways, new types of purveying education, new qualities of education that can make the difference for your institutions, and contribute to the national paradigm,” the Minister argued.