Special Education Policy before Cabinet — Reid

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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ST JAMES, Jamaica — Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid says the Special Education Policy, aimed at providing a framework to meet the educational needs of special students, is now before Cabinet for approval.

He was speaking at the 2018 Annual Conference of the Association of Principals and Vice Principals of Secondary Schools held at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa on October 14.

The policy, drafted by the Ministry's Special Education Unit, will complement the Disabilities Act, which makes provision to safeguard and enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities across Jamaica.

Its two main goals are ensuring equity and access to educational opportunities; and to promote a system of inclusive education where possible.

The policy seeks to protect the rights of children and youth with disabilities against discrimination in educational settings, and it promotes awareness of students' right to quality education. In addition, it will ensure that students are provided with the necessary accommodations they need in the educational setting.

Reid noted that over the last academic year, the ministry increased the support for students with special needs by providing additional 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,” he explained.

“This includes several students in rural Jamaica who are blind and would have otherwise had to board in Kingston to attend the (Salvation Army) School for the Blind,” he noted.

The minister said that a new curriculum for Students with Moderate to Profound Intellectual Disabilities was recently launched in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund.

It addresses language and communication, mathematics, science, physical education, music and life skills.

“This curriculum seeks to provide students with daily living skills… and a level of social skills that will assist him/her to interact appropriately with family and the wider community,” Reid noted.

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