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Policy on special education in the works
By Patricia Thangaraj
There is an absence of a vocalised policy on special education for the country.
This is coming from Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, Ronald Jones, who spoke at the official opening ceremony for the Ann Hill School yesterday. He stated that accordingly, his Ministry will be working on putting together such as policy.
“I am cognisant of the absence of an articulated policy on special education for Barbados, but I assure you here today that this is a priority for my Ministry which will be guided by the recommendations arising out of the NACE Report. The National Advisory Commission on Education [NACE] has held several town hall meeting discussions with all sectors of the educational fraternity, including a cross of students, and I am expecting the submission of their report in the not-too-distant future. Their recommendations will influence the development and implementation of any national policy on special education.”
In addition, the Government of Barbados has also assisted two of the special needs schools in Barbados by providing them with necessary financial assistance, in recognition of the fact that education is critical to one’s development and the right to attain this education is a right of all of the people of Barbadians.
“The Government of Barbados has recognised and has applauded the efforts of the Challenor School and the Learning Centre and supports these two government-assisted private schools offering education to students with special needs, through a yearly subvention of close to $2 million. During this current financial year, we have extended our support to the Adult Training Facility of the Challenor School thus enabling adult person with disabilities to gain access to a skills-training programme particular to their needs.”
He added that the Ministry of Education will continue to work with not-for-profit organisations such as the National Disabilities Unit (NDU) and the Children’s Development Centre (CDC) in order to continue to seek ways to ensure that the children are receiving an education and skills-training that caters to the individual developmental needs of each student.
All of these initiatives are in an effort to ensure that the students of special needs schools are given the same opportunities as those of mainstream schools in being able to develop a set of skills that would enable them to earn an honest living.
“It is vital that our schools prepare our young people well with the relevant life-skills and attitudes for Barbados to maintain its economic growth and competitiveness. Students should be equipped with skills and offered a breadth of experiences in order to thrive in a constantly changing and competitive world.”