Categorized | National News

Minister Tables Manual To Address Special Needs Students

Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald on Wednesday tabled a resource manual in the House of Assembly that will assist educators in the country better serve students with special needs.

Last week, parliamentarians debated and passed amendments to the Early Childhood Care Act 2004 and its regulations, which established standards for day care and preschools in The Bahamas.

On Wednesday, Mr. Fitzgerald went into depth about the National Standards for Inclusive Education manual.

The National Standards Committee for Inclusive Education (NSCIE) committee, which researched and produced the manual, was charged with providing input to the government on legislation for the national implementation of standards and mechanisms for inclusive education.

The manual, Mr. Fitzgerald said, is designed to educate school administrators and teachers about their obligations to make school campuses conducive for the delivery of education to all students according to the Education Act.

The NSCIE established six focus areas to achieve their goal: identification, planning; individual education programme and individual family service plan; parent participation, access to specialised supports and provision and accommodation.

Professional development was also added to the list, Mr. Fitzgerald said.

“It is not good enough for us to just place this manual in the hands of every teacher and believe the job for inclusive education will be accomplished,” he said.

“Starting in early 2014, teachers and other relevant persons will be engaged in professional development workshops conducted at the Our Lady’s Diagnostic Centre by the Special Services/ Education Units. The Professional Development Institute at the Mabel Walker Primary School will also play an integral role in the ongoing training of public and independent school teachers.”

The education minister said he will make every effort to ensure that all teachers throughout the country have access to the manual and are familiar with what it entails.

“We do not see this document as a panacea to address years of deficiencies in the area of special education, however, we do see it as a part of a multifaceted approach to make a difference in the lives of thousands of students underserved and denied their right to a quality education in this country,” he said.
Mr. Fitzgerald pledged that his ministry will do more to inform and educate the public about what is being done to serve the needs of special needs children or children with special rights in The Bahamas.

Rogan Smith

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