Thursday, April 18, 2024

‘Include all’ in education

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THE EDUCATION SYSTEM in Barbados must grasp the concept of inclusive educational practices and identify desired outcomes, says principal of Princess Margaret School, Dr Wismore Butcher.
This was his message to the staff and students of the St George Secondary School as he delivered the feature address at the school’s speech day yesterday.
Speaking on the theme Reaching Desired Outcomes Through Inclusive Educational Practices, Butcher congratulated the school for its foresight and initiative in its quest to act on behalf of all students, able and differently able.
The principal explained that the term inclusive education was used to describe an educational practice in which differently able students were placed in mainstream classrooms with other students not considered disabled.
Butcher said he was pleased that recently the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, in conjunction with UNICEF, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and relevant consultants, commissioned two pieces of research work seeking to survey learning disabilities and the factors influencing underachievement in Barbados’ primary schools.
He noted that such studies were long overdue, but it was hoped that the research methodologies would be sufficiently rigorous to provide useful information necessary for plotting the way forward.
“However, while school administrators and teachers who are willing to accommodate the differently able in their regular classrooms should be highly congratulated, and even without being privy to the results of the aforementioned studies, it is my considered opinion that there are various prerequisites which the system as a whole must adopt before wholesale implementation is considered – issues in relation to the training of teachers, parents and support staff, the preparation of the physical school plant to accommodate differently able students . . .”
He urged the students to continue to create and encourage a sense of belonging and to value the friendship of the differently able amongst them, which would help to raise their self-esteem and enable them to feel accepted by the school community.
“Your behaviour to date demonstrated the fact that you too understand that the school community, like the wider society, is made up of different types and groups of individuals, and that none is better than the other. I am persuaded that your teachers here will continue to nurture good relationships between and among the various groups represented in this school.
“The buddy system, whereby you attach yourself to the less fortunate and provide needed assistance for them at the canteen, on the playground, on the bus and whenever opportunities present themselves for you to help, can prove to be extremely useful.”

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