KINGSTON — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, says that everything is in place for the Malvern Special High School in St. Elizabeth to accommodate students by the end of October.
He said that all staff and other personnel have been hired. “Everything that is needed is in place…we are just waiting on the work (construction of the building) to finish,” the Minister told JIS News on August 11 during a tour of the facility.
The school, located just across the road from the all-boys Munro College, will accommodate disruptive students, taking the pressure off the normal school system.
The facility was previously slated to open in September but will miss the deadline as the final touches are still being put on the building.
During yesterday's tour, workmen were working feverishly to complete the flooring, roofing, and put in windows and other fixtures.
Minister Holness told JIS News that the institution will provide the “corrective environment” for students, who are otherwise challenged in their present school setting.
“The Ministry developed a strategy whereby those students could be pulled from their existing school environment and treated in an environment that is more conducive to behavioural management with the appropriate skills,” he stated.
He informed that they will benefit from the services of psychologists, counsellors, doctors and special teachers.
According to the Education Minister, the students, who will be placed at the institution, are not those, who have committed offences but “students, who are troubled either by problems in the home, emotional or self-esteem problems, and they need special attention, and the Ministry of Education is trying to provide that kind of environment for those students."
“This school is not a remand school,” he stressed, “it is not somewhere where the students are locked up… we have put significant resources into ensuring that the facility is secure, but it is not where we expect that students would want to escape from."
“This is a place where students would want to stay and will value their time here. Students will see the value of the programme, they will see the meaning of the programme, and want to stay,” he added.
On completion, the school will accommodate 40 to 45 students, who will reside at the facility for six months, where they will receive the special attention needed to return to the regular school system. The plan is to expand the facility to cater to about 120 students.
Students to be enrolled at the school are those who have been reported by principals and teachers, as disruptive and unmanageable, and are disturbing the normal running of the institution.
Minister Holness stressed that parents have a role to play in ensuring that their children get the best from the school.
“Parents are integral to the process and they will have to see to it that their children remain here. Once they are in the care of this facility, it’s not likely that they will be able to just walk out on their own without the parents giving authority for them to leave,” he stated.
By GARFIELD ANGUS, JIS Reporter