Minister Reid calls for reform for special needs students
Jamaica’s Education, Youth and Information Minister Ruel Reid says Jamaica’s new education initiative will take note from the Minister’s recent tour of School of the Future in Philadelphia, with a delegation of Jamaican principals. The Pennsylvania school’s approach to integrating students with special needs will form part of the framework for the nation’s “Alternative Pathways to Secondary Education” initiative, to be launched in September.
One of the most productive features of the American program, says Minister Reid, was the increased age limit. Children with special needs were allowed to stay in school until age 21, which mirror the ministry’s recent decision to extend the cutoff age from age 18 years. This, says Reid, would give students more time to get certified.
According to the School of the Future’s vision statement, the institution seeks to redefine the “norm,” hoping to reform education for the 21st century for all students. The school tour was coordinated by the Irwine Clare-led Team Jamaica Bickle, Inc based in the USA.
Following his visit Reid also repeated his call for partnerships with universities in Jamaica to to determine the level of special needs in the nation’s education system. Reid argues that there might be a higher population of children with special needs, such as autism, than what education officials and school administrators are aware of – a crucial contigent that is being overlooked.