JIS: Lecturer at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, Keitha Osbourne, says students enrolled in the special education programme are acquiring a very important skill that will make them more marketable at home and abroad.
Addressing a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ on January 29 at the agency’s Regional Office in Montego Bay, St. James, Ms. Osbourne said the uniqueness of special education is that student-teachers are trained in specialised techniques to deal with “children with those disabilities”.
Ms. Osbourne said it is important to recognise that there are students who are naturally gifted, but are plagued by physical or emotional problems.
She noted that students who participate in the special education programme at Sam Sharpe cover “a wide variety of areas”, adding that the number of credits are a little more than in the primary programme, “because the students are exposed to the primary curriculum in addition to carrying their specialised areas”.
The Lecturer said “it is a win-win” situation for a person who is trained at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in special education and is exposed to teaching students from early childhood to the secondary level.
“When we develop our curriculum, we are also in line with international standards. We are seeing a direct effort by the Ministry of Education to address the problem of students with special needs,” she said.
Ms. Osbourne noted that the graduates from Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College are in great demand in the area of special education, as “there are not sufficient graduates to fill the available jobs”.
“The students are trained not just to teach those with special needs, but to be able to identify them. They are taught assessment and also given diagnostic training,” she pointed out.
Ms. Osbourne said that at Sam Sharpe there is one course that is mandatory in special needs for all students, “because we know there are special needs students who require the specialist teachers to address their problems”.
“We also make the programme available to persons who can come to the college and get their undergraduate degree in special education. In addition, sometime this year we are going to open our diagnostic centre where students with special needs can be assessed,” she said.
CAPTION: Special Education Lecturer at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, Keitha Osbourne, addresses JIS ‘Think Tank’, at the agency’s Regional Office in Montego Bay, St. James, on January 29.