KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) - Beginning this year, the Ministry of Education intends to train select primary school teachers to detect any underlying challenges students may be experiencing which are impeding their ability to learn.
This was revealed by portfolio Minister Ronald Thwaites at a Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) meeting at the Fergusson Primary School in Manchester on Wednesday.
“Starting this year, and going into the next couple of years, we want to take at least one teacher in every primary school and train them to be a special educator so they can look out for the difficulties that children are having,” he said.
The minister said it is also expected that the ministry, through its regional offices, and the health care system, will seek to provide remedies for the problems identified.
“We want to do that testing for all ages, especially at the earliest age, because if we find out that a child has a problem early, it is easier to correct than when they get older and the problem becomes more difficult to control,” he said.
He said this was crucial, pointing out that 30 per cent of the nation’s children have some kind of learning need, which impedes their ability to function well. He said there could be a multiplicity of underlying factors that need to be addressed.
“Children have a variety of difficulties. Some children can’t hear well, they need testing. Some children have emotional difficulties. Some children are troubled by what they (heard or saw) at home. Some children are hungry,” he stressed.
Thwaites urged teachers in general to “try to rescue” the child that has a challenge.
“Please try and understand that even when the child is disruptive, by and large that is a symptom of something else. We have to stop the tendency to say he or she is bad. Why are they bad? It’s (normally) a deeper problem,” he said.
He also told parents not to be ashamed to seek the help of teachers if they discover that their child is not doing as well as he/she should.