Ministry of Education engages stakeholders on its inclusive schools project

The Ministry of Education is re-engaging stakeholders in discussions toward inclusive education in the nation’s schools ahead of the planned rollout of its Inclusive Schools Project (ISP) in January 2020. The Ministry will continue to meet with Stakeholders this week at the School of Education, University of the West Indies to collect reactions and recommendations on the initial phase of the project. The ISP is a direct response to feedback obtained during the 2016 National Consultation of Education, which has also shaped the Ministry’s 2017-2022 Education Policy. Among the Policy’s mandate is to provide a safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environment for all students, regardless of physical, intellectual, social, emotional or other needs.

The ISP seeks to make a fundamental shift to how schools approach the instruction of students with varying needs. Beginning in twenty-one (21) primary and secondary schools across the seven education districts, the project will focus on the needs of students currently enrolled at these schools, while providing training and development to equip staff to effectively support students.

The Honorable Anthony Garcia, Minister of Education, in addressing stakeholders indicated that the 2017-2022 Education Policy is guided by the themes Access, Equity, Quality and Good Governance. He said,  “An inclusive school should mirror what we all wish to see in our society, a place where our students regardless of their ability, socio-economic, behavioural or emotional challenges, learning or developmental needs, can access a school or classroom that caters to their individual needs.”

He continued, “The change that is coming is what we need to take Trinidad and Tobago from where we are, to where we want to be. It would be of no use to invest in technology, infrastructure, teacher training and the various tools that promote quality education if we do not facilitate access by all learners.”

The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) at the Ministry is facilitating the conversation. Stakeholders contributing to the discourse include the Consortium of Disability Organisations, Down Syndrome Family Network, Moms for Literacy, Dyslexia Association, Digicel Foundation, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) and other agencies.

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