In a collaborative effort by The Mico University College, CHASE Fund and the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), 144 early childhood teachers received certificates after completing a 45-hour participation in an intensive training course entitled “Identifying and Managing Special Learning Needs in Children.”
The presentation ceremony took place at the Enos Nutall Lecture Theatre on The Mico University College on Thursday, June 28, 2012.
The CHASE Fund under its Early Childhood Education portfolio, provided a grant of $2.4 million to facilitate the training, assessing and certifying of teachers from centres islandwide.
Speaking on behalf of CHASE, Aldien Anderson, Project Officer for the Early Childhood Education Sector of the Fund, said his organization was extremely pleased to be associated with this project.
“If we have good buildings and don’t have the qualified teachers to deliver in this area of special needs, our efforts would be fruitless. We commend The Mico for such an initiative and look forward to students benefitting from what the teachers have learnt ,” he said.
The Mico Committed to Children With Special Needs
In bringing greetings to the participants, Professor Claude Packer, President of The Mico University said: “We know that we are on the right track when successive governments acknowledge the importance of Early Childhood Education and target the development and expansion of this stage of our children’s education. The Mico is deeply committed to playing an active role in this process,” the Mico President said.
In continuing his address, he pointed out that The Mico had partnered with both CHASE and the Early Childhood Commission to ensure accountability and the preservation of quality of the programme and that evaluation and assessment would be done at the highest level.
According to Professor Packer, the programme was designed to empower and sensitize teachers to identify children with special needs. “We will continue to use various modalities to increase the pedagogical content knowledge of our teachers at this level,” he continued.
Mico’s Initiative Most Timely
Mrs. Winsome John’s Gayle, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Commission and main speaker at the event, lauded The Mico for taking the initiative to develop such a programme, which she described as most timely given the urgent need in the sector. She corroborated her statement by referring to a UNESCO “Education for All in the Caribbean” 2000 report which stated that the World Health Organization estimated that approximately 10% of a country’s population of children had special learning and developmental needs. The same report she pointed out, revealed that Jamaica’s prevalence was 8.27%.
“While these children are waiting to receive therapy, they will need to cope in the standard classroom environment, they will need to be stimulated and their development facilitated in an inclusive nurturing and understanding environment,” John’s Gayle pointed out, while urging the teachers present, to use the skills that they now have to provide the enabling environment needed to assist those children with such needs.
“The Mico has always been a pioneer in the area of service provision for children with special needs and has once again risen to the challenge of providing high quality and relevant courses of instruction for Jamaicans,” concluded Mrs. Johns-Gayle.
The programme which is being implemented by The Mico’s School of Continuing Studies, which offers short professional development courses, is expected to continue over a three-year period (up to 2013), and would, by then, have trained approximately 800 practitioners from registered Early Childhood institutions.
The course covered topics such as: ‘Identifying the indicators for a wide range of special needs’; ‘Identifying the various agencies to which referrals may be made’; and ‘Correct referral of suspected cases of special needs for professional assessment and evaluation.’
Upon completion of the programme, successful candidates would have gained three (3) academic credits which may be used towards attaining a Bachelors Degree in Education at The Mico.
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