British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2022

Special focus on special education

Special focus on special education

As the BVI recognises Special Education Awareness Week, they are placing a greater emphasis on discovering and helping students who have learning challenges in the territory’s education system.

According to Special Needs Education Officer, Afiya Smith, the Ministry of Education and Youth Affairs is using the week to spread more awareness on special education offerings in school and also help to assist students who may have challenges with learning.

“There are students, based on the process we currently have in our schools, who are referred by their teacher to the supporting staff in the school whether it is a counsellor or the special education teacher. Then they go through the process of identifying the challenges the students face whether it is reading-based or whether it is cognitive or memory,” Smith said.

“Then if there are any more challenges, we will take it further to determine if the student has any disability or not. There are students who don’t make it to that level that only require some finite services that we can provide within our school to meet their needs,” the Special Needs Education Officer added.

How to determine special needs


Smith said special education is a service provided to students with disabilities and is not necessarily a new curriculum or subject offered in schools. She said in determining whether students require these services, they usually do a ‘pull-in’ or a ‘push-out’ based on the information garnered.

“This is where we either take the students out of their general education classes and provide some level of support or we go into the classroom and provide support for those students in the form of accommodations where they will get extra time once we find them needing that requirement,” Smith said.

“It could also be in the form of a resource class where at our secondary level we have a support unit where those students go for their English, their math, and their science subjects. So basically, special-ed is a service and we don’t lock it into one area where it’s math or English but we provide that service and meet the need of that student in our system,” she further said.

Special Education Awareness Week


Special Education Awareness Week is being acknowledged from November 29 to December 3 and it highlights the areas of special education currently in the Virgin Islands.

There are a number of students in the school system from kindergarten to Grade 12 who require special education services. The theme for the week is ‘Don’t See Their Disability, See Their Possibilities’.

Smith said as an educator, she noticed people always focus on the disabilities of students instead of what they can offer to society and that is why they decided on the theme.

“I found it fit that we highlight this, the possibility. We are trying to get our community, our schools, our jobs to understand this. They have possibilities, there are areas of strength that we need to harness, to capitalise on so we can see the full potential of these students,” she said

The week kicked off with their virtual opening ceremony on November 29; then they had a Word Recognition Bee which was aired live on the government’s Facebook page on December 1. On Friday, they will be having ‘Rock the Colour of An Ability”, where residents are being asked to wear colours supporting any disability.

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