The Ministry of Education and Youth has partnered with Digicel Foundation to provide a retrofitted Special Education Centre in Santa Cruz St. Elizabeth which was officially handed over on Thursday ( June 8.)
The project, which was approved in 2022, saw Digicel Foundation retrofitting the former Santa Cruz Basic School at a cost of J$43m converting it to the Santa Cruz Special Education Centre.
It is the first of its kind in St. Elizabeth and will accommodate a total of 60 students in its expanded facility, equipped with three additional classrooms, a multipurpose room, assessment area, sick bay and bathroom areas. It is designed to provide transitionary special education support to students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities at the primary and secondary school levels.
Students will be exposed to a curriculum that covers Functional Literacy, Functional Mathematics, Life Skills, Social Studies, Civics, Character Education and Resource and Technology.
The students at the secondary level will be exposed to a modified Grade 7-9 National Standards Curriculum and will engage in Job Certification skills training in Agricultural Science and Basic Food Preparation.
The first cohort of students at the Santa Cruz Special Education Centre will be supported by a small complement of teaching and administrative staff, including care givers, behavioural and psychosocial support staff, technical vocational education and training instructors.
Speaking at the official launch, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and Youth, the Honourable Marsha Smith welcomed the expanded and upgraded facilities in Santa Cruz.
“Children with special needs Are all around and are very much part of the public education system. While every society has some members with disabilities, how the society treats the disabled, takes care of them, and helps them to integrate into the mainstream, reflects the kind of society it is. This centre will provide better care for those in this community,” she said.
Minister Smith also highlighted the Ministry’s Special Education Unit which has responsibility for educational provisions for students with special needs and provides technical support which encompasses education for students aged 3–21 years with various special needs including students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students who are blind or have visual impairment, students with learning disabilities, intellectual disability, emotional and behavioural disorders, autism, and students who are gifted and talented.