Students with special needs will now be given a greater fighting chance in the territory’s educational system with the implementation of a council and a special education officer.
Education Minister Dr. Natalio Wheatley made the announcement via a live social media forum on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.
“We want to have a real focus this year on equity and access. This is something we wanted to focus from before but the COVID
-19 period has even made it more glaring that there are groups of individuals within our education system who are not being able to access the information and the education as much as everyone and we want to make sure our education system caters to all,” he said.
He said in the system, there are all types of learners, with different types of abilities and talents and since he took over the ministry, he has analyzed the school system, and there are things that require change.
“I see some gaps, and, I think it is important for us to fill those gaps. One gap that we need to fill has to do with students with special educational needs. There are many parents and students who are almost in despair because they don’t feel as though the education system is fully catering to the needs of their young persons,” he remarked.
He added, “We have some systems in place, which I think are getting some results, but there are some key adjustments that we can make to help the system work better. This year we should have a special education officer in place, and we haven’t had special education officer in place for some time, and in addition to having a special education officer, we are going to put together a council for special educational needs.”
The Minister stated that the Education Act 2004 gives legislators the power to form a special education advisory council that would be made up of parents, principals and health personnel, among others.
He said the council would be tasked to give advice and make recommendations, “that we can take forward to facilitate the needs of young persons with special educational needs.”
Another group that will be coming on stream would be the Veterans Education Taskforce (VET).
He informed there was already a ‘positive and productive’ meeting with a group of veteran educators who would form the task force to assist the school.
“You might have a school with some particular struggles in reading, or perhaps a principal wants some mentorship for a struggling teacher, and we have so many excellent educators who are retired who can still give service to the system.”