Special needs children in Santa Cruz and surrounding areas in St. Elizabeth are to benefit from the establishment of a Special Education Centre.
The undertaking is being facilitated through a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Youth and the Digicel Foundation for the renovation of the Santa Cruz Basic School to house the facility.
The building will be refurbished to accommodate three classrooms, principal and administrative offices, assessment room, kitchen, storeroom, students and staff bathrooms, and ramped access.
The Ministry will provide furniture, staffing, additional sponsorship for an agricultural area on site and any other items that may be necessary for the project.
Addressing the signing ceremony at the Ministry’s National Heroes Circle offices on Tuesday (January 11), Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, expressed gratitude for the partnership, noting that the Government remains committed to ensuring that no child is left behind.
“We are particularly pleased for this added support in the area of special education, as we know that families in several areas in Jamaica need this kind of institutional support as they seek to provide an education for their children,” she said.
She noted that the Special Education Unit will work with the teaching and administrative staff of the Santa Cruz Special Education Centre to ensure that the necessary learning opportunities are provided for the students.
Minister Williams commended the Digicel Foundation, noting that the entity’s support to education over the years has assisted the Government’s vision to develop the nation’s children to their fullest potential, regardless of their social and economic backgrounds.
Senior Operations Manager, Digicel Foundation, Jodi-Ann McFarlane, informed that the Centre will accommodate 62 students across three classrooms and one multipurpose area.
“This project is also expected to impact 804 students with special needs who reside in the parish of St. Elizabeth and have been identified as students in need of special education intervention and support,” she noted.
Ms. McFarlane said the Foundation believes that every child, regardless of his or her ability, has the opportunity and the right for optimal achievement.
She noted that the Foundation, in its 18 years of existence, has renovated 19 special needs schools, trained more than 746 teachers and parents in literacy and caregiving, thus benefiting more than 100,000 students.
The Special Education Centre will serve as a transitional programme for students six to 16 years old with mild to severe intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The agreement includes the establishment of a technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programme to equip children to transition to the world of work; provision of additional assessment support for students across the region, and training opportunities for parents and caregivers to improve access to support networks to enhance the level of care for their children.
Source: JIS News