By Chad Bryan
KINGSTON, Jamaica May 4 (JIS) — The Ministries of Health, and Education, Youth and Information will be partnering to more effectively serve children with special educational needs.
Education Minister, Senator Ruel Reid, said the intervention, which is targeted for implementation in September, will provide for earlier detection of children with learning disabilities and disorders, and address those issues before they enter the formal education system.
He was responding to questions from reporters during Read Across Jamaica Day activities at the Chetolah Park Primary School in West Kingston on May 3.
“Every child that is born in Jamaica, we are going to put them in a database and work with the parents to ensure there is proper nutrition, stimulation that needs to take place and detection of any abnormalities in terms of development,” Senator Reid said.
He said the collaborative venture between the two Ministries will see community health aides working closely with parents to increase awareness and provide support.
Jamaica, last year, achieved 86.5 percent mastery in literacy at the grade four level, exceeding the 85 percent target by 1.5 percent.
Senator Reid contended that if learning disabilities are detected and addressed at the earliest stage, then the country will be able to achieve 100 percent literacy.
“Once you identify the problem from earlier, you can refer them to the professionals,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Acting Principal of Chetolah Park Primary, Mervis Blackwood, informed that the school, through its annual reading competition, is taking steps to improve literacy.
“We focus on the infants up to grade six. They read their books, write a summary and a book report and the teachers then select the best ones. This has helped tremendously. There is also a spelling competition,” she informed.
Head boy of the school, Andre McCormack, noted that reading is important in building vocabulary and creating a foundation for learning.
Read Across Jamaica Day, organised by the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), aims to promote the importance of literacy. It also forms part of Education Week 2016, observed from May 1 to 5.