Albion Primary boosts special education offering with new block
Hundreds of students across Manchester central and adjoining areas, who require special education, can now have that realised through a more affordable option, following the construction of a fully-equipped special education block at the Albion Primary School.
The project valued at just over $87 million project, was spearheaded by the Jamaica Social Development Fund (JSIF) through a partnership with the Ministry of Education and Youth, and funded by the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CBD) Basic Needs Trust Fund, 9th cycle.
The initiative is to improve capacity of the ministry’s Region 5 to reach more students with special needs.
Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams said the recurring underperformance of students has been a source of concern for administrators and teachers at the primary level across the island, making investments like these extremely necessary for the education sector.
“Students with special learning needs often require more intensive intervention. We also know that even while provisions for differentiating instructions are provided at the secondary level through the Alternative Pathways to Secondary Education, there are some students whose challenges preclude them for accessing education in mainstream settings… Students with special learning needs must be identified through appropriate assessment and placed in a setting where special support and intervention is provided.” The new block comprises three classrooms equipped with 75’ digital display system, projectors, Mimo Teacher interactive systems, laptops and other accessories, one eight-seater sanitation block with wheelchair access, staffroom, sick bay with bathroom, kitchen dining area, and a multipurpose court.
Principal of the Albion Primary, Paulette Chedda had started the institution’s special needs programme as over 30 per cent of the school’s 226 students was identified as requiring special education.
She, however, had to place students on a waiting list as there were space and resource constrainTs at the 129-year-old institution.
“This new facility is really a long leap forward towards realising the vision … It has been a long, hard journey and we are thankful to all those who are part of helping us realise our dream … Some children because of their disabilities were bouncing around from school to school because some schools would rather not address their academic challenges … We have now given them that opportunity to access quality education,” expressed Chedda.
With the primary school, which is just a few metres away from the new special needs school, unable to properly house the almost 200 students and staff, chairman of JSIF and director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr Wayne Henry, revealed that the complete reconstruction and relocation of the institution will be done through the CDB Basic Needs Trust Fund 10th cycle, making it the leading inclusive school in the region.
Managing director, JSIF, Omar Sweeney, applauded the focus on equipping special needs students with necessary skills, and support.
“I hope that today we can see the importance of more inclusive involvement in the education of persons with disabilities. We live in a society today where persons with disabilities work. We are no longer in a time where if you are disabled you can’t do anything and a big part of ensuring they have the skills is to ensure that at schools they can also be included,” he said.
Member of parliament Rhoda Crawford encouraged parents with children with special needs to utilise the opportunities that now exist to have their children properly educated instead of keeping them at home.