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200 more special-ed teachers for primary, basic schools

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Observer senior reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 21, 2012    

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TWO hundred new special education teachers will be introduced into primary and early childhood schools by December, Education Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites announced yesterday.

These teachers are in addition to another 200 currently being brought into mostly early childhood institutions next month, as was announced by the minister in July.

The special education teachers are expected to address the high number of poor-performing children with special needs in the education, Thwaites said.

"Plenty of our children come to school with some educational difficulty that the ordinary trained teacher can't handle," the minister said.

Speaking at the official opening of the St Margaret's Real Success Basic School in downtown Kingston yesterday, Thwaites promised to increase the percentage of the education budget going to the early childhood sector from its current four per cent.

He said $1 billion more was being spent on the sector this year.

The minister also thanked charity organisation Food for the Poor (FFP) for the school, which was rebuilt and refurbished at a cost of $4 million.

The school is the first of 50 basic schools to be rebuilt or refurbished around the country by FFP over the next 50 months at a cost of $200 million in celebration of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence.

Thwaites also promised that the basic school which is located in Central Kingston for which he is Member of Parliament will become an infant school before the end of this academic year and will therefore will receive funding from government.

The minister said while he was aware that 75 per cent of the adults in the community were unemployed, he urged them to contribute to the school's operation. "If it's even a finger of banana that you can bring, bring that," he said. "Even if you can't manage, bring $50 and (the principal) will take it."

FFP chairman Andrew Mahfood said another two basic schools built by the organisation would be opened next week, one each in Westmoreland and Manchester.

He told the Jamaica Observer that 27 more schools were under investigation for selection and that FFP was working with the Early Childhood Commission and the education ministry to identify the others.

"We try to focus on the needs that are most urgent", Mahfood said.

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