MONTEGO BAY, St James — MORE than 200 teachers, principals and guidance counsellors drawn form western Jamaica recently participated in a series of workshops at the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College in Montego Bay, in an bid to better equip themselves to handle special needs students.
The workshops were staged by the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) in collaboration with the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) recently, under the theme: 'Reaching every Learner.'
It was aimed at equipping teachers to effectively meet the needs of students, who have been left behind or overlooked due to their varying education needs.
Chairman of the JTA's Special Education and Early Childhood Committee Dr Polly Bowes-Howell told the Observer West at the end of the workshops that similar seminars were held in Kingston last year.
She said, however, that a decision was subsequently taken to have the workshops in Montego Bay this year.
"We took it to Montego Bay because there was a need for it to move it to the west. One of the recommendations by the JTA was that we should have the second workshops where the need is the greatest," she emphasised.
She said that the JTA has recognised the need for more teachers to be trained in special education in the western region because of the large number of students who have specials needs.
"There is a particular case in a primary school as we speak, where 21 out of 31 children were assessed by the Mico Care Centre and were found to have special education needs," she added.
She did not name the institution.
She argued that more spaces will have to be found more for special needs children.
"Those in the mild range and those with intellectual disabilities can stay in the regular classrooms. But children with moderate to severe needs whether it be cognitive problems, academic learning problems or behavioural problems — need to be assigned to an institution that has teachers who are specially trained," she said.
Meanwhile, at the end of the two weeks of workshops, the group of participants were awarded certificates.