The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has partnered with the Rockhouse Foundation to establish Jamaica’s first public educational institution that will cater to students with and without disabilities.
The Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy, based in Westmoreland, was formally opened by Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, on Wednesday (November 28).
Senator Reid said the institution’s opening is timely, as it will meet the growing demand for the delivery of quality education to children with special needs
“The inclusive model is in keeping with international standards and is a welcome addition to the education landscape in western Jamaica, especially here in Westmoreland, Savanna-la-Mar in particular, where service for children with special needs is extremely limited,” he stated.
Senator Reid also underscored the importance of public-private partnerships that are aligned with the Ministry’s mandate, particularly in improving special education.
“We believe that the Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy fits well with the aims and objectives of [the Ministry]. We know that not only will you cater to the academic development of children but [will] also provide related services, such as speech therapy, and physical therapy,” he said.
The Minister explained that the inclusive model is designed to ensure that the needs of every child are catered to through a collaborative approach.
“All children receive appropriate educational programmes [and] curricula relevant to their needs… . All children participate in co-curricular and extracurricular activities and benefit from cooperation, [and] collaboration among home, schools, and community,” he shared.
In this regard, Senator Reid reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the early childhood sector to provide all children, whatever their background, with a good foundation for their mental, physical and emotional development.
For his part, Rockhouse Foundation President, Peter Rose, reiterated his commitment to continue working with the Ministry to develop other similar educational institutions across the island.
“Our goal and aspiration… is for this to not be a one-of-a-kind institution in Jamaica, but to see others [established] across the island. Our goal is to be helpful to the Ministry in any way that we can.
This kind of place sends such a strong signal, not just to the children and parents who are a part of this school family but to the wider community, the parish, [and] the region,” he said.
Since its inception, the Foundation has spent close to US$5 million on educational endeavours in Jamaica.
It has, to date, transformed and modernised five other institutions. They include the Moreland High, Primary and Infant Schools; Negril All-Age School; Negril Basic School; Little Bay All-Age and Infant School; and the Bunch of Stars Early Childhood institution.
Additionally, the Foundation has renovated and expanded the Negril community library.