JIS: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says a Special Education Policy has been developed and is ready for Cabinet submission.
He made the disclosure at a back-to-school conference for regions one, two and six, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on June 14.
“We have never had a special-education policy, and we need to put it into legislation. We are about to submit that to Cabinet. We have done the work, and once that has been approved, we will [distribute] it to all our stakeholders,” the Minister said.
The Special Education Policy seeks to ensure access and equity for students with special needs in the education system.
Senator Reid also informed that a School to Work Transition Resource Guide (STWT) has been developed, which will guide educators in developing transition programmes for students with special needs at the secondary level.
“Research indicates that students with special needs are more likely to drop out of school and have more challenges transitioning to the world of work or tertiary education programme, once they complete secondary education,” the Minister noted.
Senator Reid said that over the last academic year the Ministry increased the support for students with special needs in the general education setting by providing additional Shadow/Caregivers through the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme.
“Over 60 families are benefiting from this programme, which allows students with special needs to remain in their community schools and be educated among their peers while receiving the support needed to function effectively in the school environment,” the Minister said.
He said among these are several students in rural Jamaica who are blind and would have otherwise had to board in Kingston to attend the School for the Blind.
Meanwhile, Senator Reid noted that the Ministry has undertaken to provide financial and technical support for a new programme at the School for Therapy Education and Parenting (STEP Centre).
“This programme targets students at the early-childhood level who have physical disabilities and are also visually impaired. The programme is intended to equip these students to transition to the primary level,” he explained.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (standing), makes a point as he addresses the Back-to-School conference for regions one, two and six, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on June 14. Seated at left is Chief Education Officer in the Ministry, Dr. Grace McLean.