Special education teachers to get mandatory training

The Special Education Policy, once approved and implemented, will make it mandatory for teachers serving students with special needs to be adequately trained and certified.
Jamaican Sign Language Interpreter, Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD), Hughen Spencer (left); Professor, Speech, Pathology and Audiology at Calvin College, United States of America, Dr Brian Kreisman (second left); Education Officer, Special Education Unit in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Christina Addington (centre); and Ministry of Health and Wellness representative, Dr Richard Musaazi (second right) pay keen attention to Executive Director, Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD), Tashi Widmer, who is communicating with the group using sign language.

The Special Education Policy, once approved and implemented, will make it mandatory for teachers serving students with special needs to be adequately trained and certified.

The policy, drafted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s Special Education Unit, is currently before Cabinet.

It will complement the Disabilities Act, which makes provision to safeguard and enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities across Jamaica.

“Once the policy is in [effect], teachers will have to be trained in the area they wish to serve.”

— Education Ministry’s Christina Addington

Speaking at a recent stakeholder meeting in Kingston, education officer in the Special Education Unit, Christina Addington, said that a critical aspect of the policy is ensuring that institutions are staffed with qualified special educators, who are trained to provide the specialised instructional support required by students.

She noted that teachers serving students with exceptionalities, must be certified in the area of special education relevant to the population with which they work.

“We know that in some instances, persons are not trained in the field in which they are working. Usually, it is years of service or just because that is your area of interest. However, once the policy is in [effect], teachers will have to be trained in the area they wish to serve,” she said.