Education delivery in the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region Three) region has been given a much needed boost with the launch of a Special Education Needs (SEN) unit at the Wales Primary School on Thursday. At the ceremony, Regional Executive Officer for Region Three Denis Jaikarran revealed that a contract will soon be signed to construct a new SEN school in Schoonord, West Bank Demerara.
Regional Education Officer (REDO) Penelope McIntosh told Guyana Times that the facility at Schoonord will cater for 25 to 30 students. She further explained that the staff compliment will be based on the number of students that will be placed in the special needs institution when it is established.
“This school will cater to the needs of students who have special educational needs due to severe learning difficulties, physical disabilities or behavioural problems,” the Region Three official observed.
Highlighting why Wales Primary was selected for an SEN department in the region, the REDO stated that because several children from the schools’ surrounding communities face such challenges.
“When we did our evaluation, the majority of the children with special needs are from the area. It would be less costly for the parent to bring them to the school until the school (at Schoonord) is established where the children will be transported,” she indicated.
At the launch, McIntosh told the gathering that the establishment of the SEN department is indicative of providing education at more holistic level.
“This step highlights the fact that we have evolved as a nation to overcome our prejudices and allow special education to be an integral part of the total education programme,” the REDO stressed. She stated that the unit’s establishment is indeed a “proud moment” for Region Three.
National SEN Officer Savvie Hopinkinson in her feature address recalled that in the past, special needs students faced prejudices over physical appearance and for their slow learning which often times is due to conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) and dyslexia.
Hopkinson however believes that children with special needs can be valuable to their schools, families and teachers. She further revealed that Education Ministry’s plan is to place SEN schools in all 10 administrative regions, with each region having its own Special Education Needs Officer.
The Region RDC which funded the project under the guidance of the REO, stated it is committed to maintaining and sustaining the SEN centre.