The Day by day Herald – Particular wants schooling coverage in superior phases of improvement
PHILIPSBURG – A special educational funding policy is currently in an advanced stage of development and should be completed this year.
Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Minister Rodolphe Samuel told MPs last Friday that the first working draft of the directive has been presented to key stakeholders, both internally and externally, for their feedback and input.
These include the cabinet of the ECYS minister, the management team of the ECYS ministry, school authorities, the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) and special education organizations such as Enable NV and Excellence Learning Academy. The draft policy is currently being updated based on feedback received, Samuel said.
The Inclusive Education project is now making good progress. The design criteria for special needs and inclusive schools are the first of several products that have been developed to support special needs education policies. According to Samuel, this includes international school design principles that are to be used to modernize and reconstruct local educational institutions with special educational needs and inclusive education, such as the Charles Leopold Bell School.
The design criteria were checked by a project team for special needs / inclusive education; the resilient team of the ECYS ministry; the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI; School authorities; and beneficiaries of the relevant World Bank projects.
“Within the last two weeks it has been submitted to the ECYS minister for a decision. The counselor is next expected to present the results of a survey to assess the availability of special needs and inclusive education in public, government-funded and private schools on the island. These results will help to finalize the draft special needs education policy for submission to the ECYS minister for decision, ”said Samuel.
When asked by a MP about what the policy will cover, Samuel said it would cover physical, emotional, and behavioral learning disabilities and impairments. Areas covered by the directive include autism, hearing impairment, visual impairment, speech impairment, emotionally disturbed, specific learning disability, intellectual handicapped, orthopedic handicapped, multi-handicapped and gifted pupils.
Samuel said that implementing the Special Education Policy means regulating all aspects of the provision of special needs education in St. Maarten. This, he added, includes the basic principles and beliefs that should be used to guide the provision of special education in the country. In addition, special education is defined in the directive, including the categories of special educational needs regulated in the directive.
The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) was introduced into the draft guidelines as a tool to support the goal of meeting the individual needs of each student while providing access to the general education curriculum. Ways to better meet the needs of secondary school students with special needs who do not meet the requirements of the Arbeidsgericht Onderwijs (AGO) are being examined.
He said the policy will also seek to remove all the barriers faced by students with special needs through the full implementation of inclusive education and the provision of education in a least restrictive environment.
“The structure of special needs education is addressed. Pull-out resource rooms, including classrooms, and special needs schools and classrooms, are properly described in the policy, including the student-to-teacher ratio found in each type of classroom. The procedures for identifying and placing pupils with special educational needs in inclusive educational institutions or special schools will be addressed and the admission process will be regulated, ”he said.
“The roles and responsibilities of all key actors are set out in the policy to provide clarity and transparency about the expectations of all actors in providing adequate care for the student with special needs.”
The required qualification of the teaching and supervisory staff in special education is regulated in the guideline according to the applicable law. The policy will also establish procedures for record keeping, access to records and reporting of student and staff records.
The directive will also set out the types of disciplinary action that may be taken against pupils with special needs and any special considerations required for the provision of special needs education, such as the infrastructure, physical environment and layout of schools.
Samuel said that currently, teachers are generally the ones who signal to a school’s care team that there are talented students based on classroom observations and student assessment results. The support team collects additional information (including parenting advice) and if there is actually evidence of giftedness, a transfer is made to the St. Maarten Student Union (SSSD).
SSSD performs a thorough clinical evaluation that also includes social-emotional functions. This also includes data from student tracking, student portfolio review, class observation, etc. the child. “
Regarding how the policy will address students’ physical disabilities, Samuel said that operational standards for special education affect school design – infrastructure, spatial environment and spatial layout. The directive will include such information to address physical disabilities in students in a number of ways, he said.
“Some of these considerations include breaking down barriers to education by making sure there is enough space for movement; that there are limited distractions, paying special attention to noise, lighting and flooring; and that activities should be designed with those with physical challenges in mind.
“The directive affirms that schools serving students with special needs should be designed and built to meet those needs.
“In addition, the recent collaboration with the National Recovery Program Bureau has spawned the Design Criteria for Special Needs and Inclusive Schools, which contain international school design principles that should be used to modernize and reconstruct local educational institutions with special educational needs and inclusive education.”
He said the directive addresses secondary education for students with special needs by introducing the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) as a tool to support the goal of meeting the individual needs of each student while providing access to the general education curriculum.
“The guideline also aims to regulate the enrollment process for pupils with special needs in secondary education and to regulate qualifications for special educators at secondary education.
“There are some ideas on the table right now when it comes to secondary education. It is expected that an assessment of current needs related to special education will be launched shortly in order to further identify the existing needs for special education and to further inform the draft directive before it is formalized, ”he said.