Special needs education in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will soon be given a boost by a Cuban expert who will be coming here to assist local educators with teaching persons who are differently able.
Word of this has come from Minister of Education, Curtis King, who said at a recent function that a letter of intent was signed with the Cuban government for expanding cooperation in education, with special focus on Special Needs Education in SVG.
The minister was speaking on Thursday, May, 25 at the opening ceremony for the refurbished headquarters of the organisation ‘Voice of the Disabled’ at San Souci.
Kind said they are hoping that the Cuban expert would be in the state sometime before December, 2023, to work with local educators “to design our special education programme, so that it could provide greater service than what is being offered now”.
He said while the expert is not yet here, the ministry is not simply sitting back and waiting.
King said already, the Ministry of Education has put in place a unit with two persons who are trained in special needs education.
“We have come a long way in terms of how we have been relating to children who have special needs, with regards to their education,” King noted.
He reminded the gathering that in the past, some parents used to hide their children who required Special Education.
“We are steadfast in our commitment and encouragement to those parents.
“No child should be left behind, whether that child lives in town or country, whether that child is male or female, or whether that child is able or differently able.”
The minister went on to point out that all special needs students who were successful in the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) are now attending secondary school.
This includes persons who are visually impaired and hearing impaired.
The minister noted that these students attend the Georgetown Secondary School and the New Adelphi Secondary School.
Minister King also said that pioneering work is being done at the Fair Hall Government School as it relates to Special Education.
At that school a teacher for the visually impaired is on staff.
And King commended the staff at these schools for their exceptional work in educating persons who are differently able.
Minister King also congratulated Cheryl Adams, founder and president of Voice of the Disabled.
He said the refurbished building at San Souci will be used “for enhancing the lives of persons who are differently able.”
In her address on Thursday, Adams said God has been good to Voice of the Disabled and that “God has a lot in store for this organization”. Adams, who is a former teacher at the School for Children with Special Needs in Georgetown, is now assigned to the Ministry of National Mobilization.
She spoke of some of the challenges at her organization, including the need for funds to enable members to travel from their homes to the centre at San Souci on a regular basis.
Adams also asked for the setting up of a desk at the Ministry of National Mobilization to assist persons who are differently able.
“When my members go to Mobilization, they shouldn’t have to line up like others.”
Minister of National Mobilization, Orande Brewster was not present at the opening; he was represented by a member of staff at the ministry who explained that the ministry is putting in place a unit for vulnerable persons, and they are working to deploy an officer to assist persons with disabilities.