The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development held the first-ever Special Education Conference of Teachers at the Ministry of Education Conference Room on Tuesday.
The gathering brought Special Education professionals throughout Grenada, together to discuss the challenges specific to the field and the ways in which these challenges can be remedied.
Hon. Anthony Boatswain, Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, welcomed this initiative and reassured the teachers present of the full support of the Ministry of Education in their endeavour.
“The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development fully appreciates what you do and is supportive of the sacrifices that you make in assuring success, but we are also mindful of the various challenges that you face in the preparation, delivery and sustainability of Special Education,” Minister Boatswain said.
Issues like training, or inadequate training; transportation; the physical environment in which teachers work; and sometimes, even the lack of parental support, were some main areas of concern.
Minister Boatswain said that Government, and the Ministry of Education in particular, is fully committed to ensuring that these challenges are confronted head-on and outlined four key policy initiatives aimed at improving Special Education in Grenada:
- Promote the development of a Special Needs Education Policy
- Provide appropriate learning tools for delivery of the curriculum, including
- Provide and upgrade facilities on all our special needs institutions
- Provide more training for Special Education teachers
Special Education Officer, Mrs. Jennelyn St. John-John, provided an overview of Special Education in Grenada and highlighted some of the main programmes that have been implemented.
The Special Education Desk (SEND) Programme, currently has eleven schools participating, and is aimed at pulling slow children out of the regular schools, giving them one-on-one attention, and then reincorporating them into the regular classroom.
“We are having a lot of children in the mainstream school that we may identify to be better off in the Special School, for the one-on-one [attention]. This is not very possible now, because of the growing sizes of the classes, but originally the intention was for one-on-one [attention] and then [the students] might be able to fit back into the mainstream school.”
Mrs. St. John-John said that once a child receives support at an early age, it is possible that this child may be reintegrated into the mainstream schools.
“We have been networking with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development and the Early Childhood Unit, because we felt that forging that bond is really crucial if we have to be serious about Special Education. The earlier students are identified the better,” Mrs. St. John-John said.
Special Education Officer St. John-John also spoke on other aspects of the Special Education curriculum, such as vocational and life skills, which ensures that special needs students are able to fit into society and not be dependent for the rest of their lives.
Additional projects, such as the Children Health Organisation and Relief Educational Services or CHORES Grenada, are also organised for special needs students. CHORES Grenada takes place twice a year and provides the opportunity for an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a physical therapist, an audiologist, and sometimes an ear, nose and throat specialist, to visit and assess our children in Grenada who have special needs and intervene where needed. Through that project, most of the visits see over 150 students ranging from newborns all the way to 18 years of age.
The Special Education institutions in Grenada are the St. Andrew’s School for Special Education; the Victoria School for Special Education; the Resource Centre for the Blind; the School for the Deaf; and the Grenada School for Special Education.