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US$3m survey for children with special needs
The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, will soon embark on conducting a US$3 million nationwide survey that will benefit children with special needs. This was revealed by Minister of Education Dr Tim Goopeesingh, who was speaking at the National Youth Productivity Forum hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AmCham T&T). He said the survey will be completed in one year.
Dr Goopeesingh said the Government had been working in tandem with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to come up with ways of creating a solid structure to manage the needs of these children. Edu-Nova of Canada was contracted to conduct the survey. The aim is to build five individual centres with a multidisciplinary approach to the various needs of the children.
Goopesingh said the centres would be constructed in all the corners of Trinidad and Tobago to embrace the widest possible geographic. “The centres would provide remedies for children with disabilities, who would then be sent back into the mainstream of the education system,” he said.
It is hoped the centres will determine the true incidences and problems affecting the children and 16 schools at the primary level have already been earmarked for the project. The survey will also focus on the remedial centres which will target those with learning issues, auditory impairment issues, visual impairment, physical disabilities and mental challenges.
Additionally the survey proposes to assess and provide remedial action for children with emotional, behavioural, psychological abnormalities, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, autism, down syndrome and neural disorders. Dr Goopesingh said 30 per cent of the annual birth rate or 5,000 children were born with special needs.
He lamented the need for more educators within this field and announced that the Government is now looking to get more counsellors in the school system in various specialised fields, to look after the needs of these children.
“There is need for clinical psychologist, social workers, medical social workers and the whole range of special needs educators,” he said. As such, the Government has provided scholarship incentives for interested people. Additionally, among private and public sector special needs schools in the country (12 being government controlled) an annual allowance of $1,450 per student each term will be granted for the public schools and $2,500 for those in the private school system.
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