JIS News

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  • One trained special education teacher in every school by 2016
  • The Government has been placing increased focus on early childhood and special education

The Ministry of Education plans to have at least one trained special education teacher in every school by 2016.

This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, who said the move is in keeping with plans to further transform and improve the education system.

He was addressing teachers, principals and school board chairpersons at the Region five Back-to-School Conference held Wednesday, July 17, at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville.

“For special education students, encompassing about 20 per cent of our school population, it is vitally important that we increase the number of trained special education teachers,” Rev. Thwaites said.

He extended an invitation to teachers already in the system, who have a desire to devote themselves to special education, to apply to their regional offices for training in the area.

The Government has been placing increased focus on early childhood and special education, with $11 billion earmarked to boost provisions for this fiscal year.

The allocation, which represents 14.6 per cent of the Ministry’s recurrent budget, is aimed at ensuring the provision of adequate resources aimed at enhancing the learning capacity of the pupils enrolled at these institutions.

In the meantime, Minister Thwaites told education stakeholders that “starting this year and every year onwards” the Ministry has set as its target, a 10 per cent increase in the outcome of the Grade One Individual Learning Profile assessment.

The test, which came on stream in 2008, tracks the position, attitude and the readiness of children as they leave the early childhood system.

Minister Thwaites lamented that many students were leaving the kindergarten and early childhood level “grossly unprepared” for the next phase of their education.

“We face a situation where there are varying levels across the island, between 30 per cent in some places and up to 50 per cent in others, where our children, despite the early childhood experience, are simply not ready for primary school,” he stated.

Mr. Thwaites lamented that this unfortunately places an extraordinary burden on teachers and placed them “very often on an escalator of failure”.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure this element of the vision is realised. We hold ourselves accountable and we ask you to share that accountability in full measure as your circumstances will dictate,” he stated.