by Sorana Mitchell
Particular attention is being placed on Special Education Needs as Grenada and other countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), implement programmes to enhance their education sectors.
These programmes are funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) through the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Programme for Educational Advancement and Relevant Learning (OECS PEARL).
In September, Grenada along with the other participating OECS countries (St Vincent, St Lucia and Dominica) launched a Special Education Needs Survey or SEN Survey. “Even if a child cannot walk, doesn’t mean that [there isn’t] a brain, a brilliant brain behind there. So, the Survey is more or less trying to get out there into the nook and cranny to find children who are otherwise left at home and are [not] given the opportunity to be involved as everybody else,” said Agnes St John-John, the Focal Point for the SEN Survey in the Ministry of Education.
Dr Astra McKenzie who is the National Coordinator for the OECS PEARL in Grenada said, “We’ve had projects like this in the past and we’ve not paid any attention to special education needs. Now this year, we are having the opportunity with this project to pay attention to extending access to students with special education needs, access to students who are at the early childhood age as well.”
Dr McKenzie noted, “the data that we collect from the survey will also help us to get information so that we can make decisions about the resources we would need to support inclusion in classrooms, the training that educators would need and of course we will get the data that we would need. We don’t really have data on special education needs per se.”
Encouraging inclusion is an integral part of the Special Education Needs sensitisation programme. “Basically, inclusive education is ensuring that all learners are given the opportunity to learn, and inclusion should not only be concentrated on school. When we say inclusion, we’re talking about society as a whole. So whether it’s in church or whether it’s in clubs like football clubs or whatever, inclusion should be part of that sort of organisation also,” said St John-John.
Coordinator of the Grenada National Council of the Disabled Hilary Gabriel welcomed the SEN Survey and congratulated the ministry for the drive to get the public involved. “I think, this is really a good sign for Grenada and especially, by extension, persons with disabilities, and I think we need to do more like that especially for children with disabilities and special needs within the society.”
The SEN Survey has been extended as the ministry seeks to reach as many special needs children in the communities.
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