JIS News

The Upper House gave its approval to the Early Childhood Regulations, Resolutions 2005 at yesterday’s (Oct. 28) sitting at Gordon House.
Recommendations came from both sides of the Upper House on how to best to make the Regulations more comprehensive to recognise disabled children, as well as to give an extension on the stipulated time for pupil teachers to gain their requisite certification.
While government Senator Floyd Morris commended the Regulations noting “it was extremely important that we set guidelines for the operations of these institutions,” he stressed that efforts being made by the government to transform early education should also incorporate new measures to ensure that the needs of young children were being catered to.
Senator Morris proposed that both parents and operators of early childhood institutions should strive to ensure that disabled children received proper exposure to education.
“I want to say to parents across the length and breadth of Jamaica that there is assistance in the system to accommodate and facilitate children with disabilities and they have to seek the assistance as early as possible so that these children can become a meaningful part of the productive capacity of our country,” Senator Morris noted.
Ideally, he further stated, the best scenario for children with disabilities would be for their integration with “what you would regard as normal children in the education system.”
The Senator said that over time, this should change a number of stigmas associated with persons with disabilities as “they would have been exposed to the formal education system and grow up with their able bodied peers, and the culture will change over time.”
He highlighted the fact that to some extent, Clause 15 of the Regulations, spoke to the incorporation of the “handicapped” in the school system.
Raising his objections to the phrase, “handicapped” being used, Senator Morris requested that the term be replaced with “disability”. This was agreed upon by both sides.
Meanwhile, Opposition Senator Prudence Kidd-Deans said while she was mindful of the fact that changes had to be made to the early childhood system, she questioned the feasibility of the proposed ratio of one teacher to five students in the classroom, given Jamaica’s growing population.
In relation to the early childhood institutions accommodating disabled children, she queried if some of the requirements to meet with disabled children would involve a cost factor, and whether the school, individuals or the government would bear the cost of facilitating children with special needs.
Mrs. Kidd-Deans further said government should not be too rigid in allowing the pupil teachers at the early childhood institutions, who presently lack the stipulated certification, to be afforded the time to comply with the regulations.
“Some of the teachers are not really trained, they are pupil teachers, and some of them based on their experience have that qualification, and we should give them time to make incremental steps to step up to the plate based on these requirements,” the Senator said.