- Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has extended an invitation to Choose Life International (CLI) to partner with the Ministry.
- Choose Life International provides suicide prevention, counselling, and emotional and wellness assessment services.
- Rev. Thwaites argued that early intervention is necessary in empowering and enabling the nation’s children to get the best results in school and to become productive adults.
Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has extended an invitation to Choose Life International (CLI) to partner with the Ministry, in providing counselling and behavioural assessment services to students with special education needs.
Choose Life International, a faith-based, non-governmental organisation, founded by Dr. Donovan Thomas, and his wife, Faith, is geared at helping Jamaicans live their best lives by providing suicide prevention, counselling, and emotional and wellness assessment services.
Rev. Thwaites indicated that behavioural and emotional services continue to be necessary in the education system, as more than 20 per cent of children in schools can be categorised as special needs cases.
“We know that (many) of our young people in schools, to some extent, are challenged – it is sometimes financial – but often it is deep-seated, psychological and behavioural challenges,” the Minister noted.
He was addressing a special breakfast meeting organised by CLI, held at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston on February 7, under the theme: ‘Proactivity to avert tragedy’.
“We welcome Choose Life in the schools and invite you to participate with the Ministry of Education in our new effort to help assess and evaluate the emotional and psychological state of our students, who appear to be challenged in one way or another,” the Minister said.
Rev. Thwaites argued that early intervention is necessary in empowering and enabling the nation’s children to get the best results in school and to become productive adults.
“The earlier we get to understand that which is disordering our children, the more likely, and the more efficient, the change will be,” he said.
The Minister also asked CLI to support the work of the Voluntary Organization for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) in Kingston, which is to be completely re-organised and transformed into an early childhood diagnostic and therapy centre.
He reiterated Government’s plans for the establishment of three diagnostic and care centres at a cost of $40 million in rural Jamaica.
The centres are being constructed at the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in St. James; Church Teachers’ College, Manchester; and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland.
The development of the rural centres will alleviate the need for parents to take their children to Kingston for assessment at the Mico Child Assessment and Research in Education (CARE) Centre, which is currently the only such facility in the island.
Speaking to JIS News, Mrs. Thomas said the Minister’s invitation is a fantastic idea. “That is what we have been in dialogue with the Ministry about for a good while now, so getting into greater partnership with them is part of what we really want,” she said.
The CLI Co-founder and Director of Counselling said the organisation can assist the Ministry with providing emotional assessment tools as well as counselling services that would undoubtedly improve the lives of students across the island.
In outlining some of the organisation’s plans in this area, Mrs. Thomas said they would assist the Ministry in developing an emotional and behavioural assessment programme for primary level students who are moving into the secondary system.
Under this programme, the students would go through a group or individual assessment and the results would be analysed and a detailed assessment report sent to the schools on each child.
“The thinking behind it is similar to when a child is going to high school, and they need to have a medical certificate or their academic record, so that the school can see where they are. We are saying that, in the same way, they also need to have an emotional assessment of where they are, and if they need immediate counselling intervention, this would be carried out or they would be referred to the proper institution,” Mrs. Thomas said.