Beginning this year, the Ministry of Education will train select primary school teachers across the island to be deployed as special educators.
They will be used to detect underlying challenges students may be experiencing, which are impeding their ability to learn.
This was revealed by portfolio Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites who was addressing a Parent-Teachers’ Association (PTA) meeting at the Fergusson Primary School on Wednesday (January 16) in Manchester.
“Starting this year, and going into the next couple of years, we want to take at least one teacher in every primary school and train them to be a special educator so they can look out for the difficulties that children are having,” he said.
The Minister said it is also expected that the Ministry, through its regional offices, and the health care system, will seek to provide remedies for the problems identified.
“We want to do that testing for all ages, especially at the earliest age, because if we find out that a child has a problem early, it is easier to correct than when they get (older) and the problem becomes more difficult to control,” he said.
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He noted that this was crucial, pointing out that 30 per cent of the nation’s children have some kind of learning need, which impedes their ability to function well. He said there could be a multiplicity of underlying factors that need to be addressed.
“Children have a variety of difficulties. Some children can’t hear well, they need testing. Some children have emotional difficulties. Some children are troubled by what they (heard or saw) at home. Some children are hungry,” he stressed.
The Minister further urged teachers in general to “try to rescue” the child that has a challenge.
“Please try and understand that even when the child is disruptive, by and large that is a symptom of something else. We have to stop…the tendency to say he or she is bad. Why are they bad? It’s (normally) a deeper problem,” he said.