Weekly training for parents, guardians of special needs students

—all 13 special schools and centres engaged

Efforts to bridge the education gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have seen parents and guardians of students with special needs and disabilities receiving online training, as students remain engaged at home.

The virtual training is facilitated through the Special Education Needs (SEN) Unit of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).

National Special Education Needs Officer, Ms. Savvie Hopkinson

National SEN Officer, Ms. Savvie Hopkinson told DPI that the SEN Unit is conducting four weekly sign language training sessions on Thursdays and Fridays for persons in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Ten, and the Georgetown district.

“On Thursdays, we have one session at 10am; then we have one at 5pm that caters for those who usually can’t participate during the day – like parents when they get home from work. They would participate at 5pm and teachers who would work during the day on [virtual] schooling,” Ms. Hopkinson said.

Meanwhile, training on Fridays is at 10am and 1pm. A facilitator from the SEN Unit conducts each training session.

Knowledge of sign language is crucial to communicate with persons who have hearing and speaking impairments.  Keeping in mind the importance of the training and the COVID-19 precautions, the SEN Unit saw the need to implement the alternative measure.

Additionally, weekly forums are functioning to engage both parents and teachers on matters that may arise and ways to improve engagement with the learners during the pandemic.

“The Special Education Needs Officers work along with the Special Schools, whose teachers are using virtual platforms, handouts or packages. So, as they work, they come up with ideas on what the needs are,” the National SEN Officer explained.

Following an assessment of the needs, SEN Officers conduct presentations and host discussions with parents. These sessions are interactive and include question and answer segments to foster educational advancement.

“That’s what we would have been focused on in line with the pandemic,” Ms. Hopkinson said.

All meetings are open to parents, teachers and other persons who may be interested.

So far, at least 70 persons are benefiting as the SEN Unit works with all 13 special needs schools and centres, inclusive of the David Rose, Sophia and New Amsterdam special schools and the Beterverwagting Special Education Needs Centre.

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