Principal of the Ann Hill School (left) Emelda Bell, and Principal of the SJPI, Ian Drakes, exchange documents after signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) officially cementing their partnership. The MOU will benefit special needs children at the tertiary institution. (SJPI)

The Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI) and the Ann Hill School are working to provide better educational opportunities for children with special needs.

The two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), last Friday, officially cementing their partnership.

Principal of the SJPI, Ian Drakes, described the partnership as “exciting”, adding that “the excitement of this MOU signing speaks to the inclusivity of our nation’s children; special needs students deserve an opportunity just like ‘regular’ students. They have the ability.”

Mr. Drakes further explained that the two institutions have been working together informally for several years, noting that the MOU would “solidify what has been a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ for some time”.

He said he hopes that parents would welcome the news, as it would mean that they would no longer have to negotiate for spaces at the SJPI each year.

According to Deputy Principal, Academic Affairs at the SJPI, Brenda Osbourne, the MOU will see SJPI offering four graduates of the Ann Hill School from the 17 to 18 age group, the opportunity to pursue a full-time programme at the SJPI from the August 2022 semester, in the first instance, and on an annual basis thereafter.

“Where possible, this number will comprise two females and two male students. The SJPI will reserve spaces for selected students from the Ann Hill School in the programmes of their choice, with a maximum of two spaces in any given programme. We will also waive the requirements of the entrance examination. However, students will be expected to attend an interview in keeping with the SJPI’s entry procedures,” Ms. Osbourne explained.

Principal of the Ann Hill School, Emelda Bell, expressed her gratitude, stating: “Over the past nine years or more, SJPI and Ann Hill School have been building and creating opportunities for our students, but today, we are going to make that formal. Unfortunately, our students often go out into society, and one of the first hurdles they face is the perception of their limitations, but this can be dispelled when we highlight and celebrate what students can do.

“Year after year, our staff work tirelessly assisting students; counselling with parents; reassuring them; helping them to find options at the transition to another phase of their education, ” Mrs. Bell added.

Both principals said they hope that the MOU signing would be an example to encourage others to share their skills and knowledge to further improve education for special needs students.

Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology

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