Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw (back row, centre); Principal of Ann Hill School, Emelda Bell (far right); and artists Kwami Hunte and Sherri Nicholls, pose with students after the unveiling of the mural entitled “The Journey”. (MRD)

The Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring that special needs teachers receive ongoing training to cater to their students’ diverse psycho-social and cognitive needs.

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT), Santia Bradshaw, made the assertion last Friday at the unveiling of the third mural in a four-part series for Education Month at the Ann Hill School, Pine Plantation Road, St. Michael.  The unveilings are part of the METVT’s mural pilot project.

“Our commitment as a ministry to training has seen our teachers at a range of schools, including special schools, exposed to further professional development designed to strengthen their professional competencies in key areas.

“…We, therefore, recognize the Ann Hill School as one of our signature schools which has effectively carved out for itself a special niche in catering to many of our differently-abled students; students who, nonetheless, are blessed with a range of talents and gifts to be developed under the caring and watchful eyes of both teachers and parents.  At the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, we remain committed to our students with special needs and to our teachers who work hard to assist them on their individual developmental journeys,” she emphasized.

Ms. Bradshaw added that research had shown the positive role that art and creative spaces played in the social, psychological and emotional development of all students, including those with special needs.

Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, symbolically presents the mural to the Head Boy and Head Girl of the Ann Hill School. (MRD)

The Education Minister expressed the view that exposure to the arts could furnish special needs students with the skills and competencies needed for them to live more independent lives.  She said art could also level the playing field for these students.

Additionally, the minister pointed out that the creative disciplines could translate into opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship for special needs students.

“Our message through this mural is, therefore, two-fold.  Art is decorative and can beautify, while it can also serve as a viable stream of income for our youth at all levels. Public art, as captured in this mural, can serve, therefore, to motivate and inspire the students of the Ann Hill School to believe in themselves and in their own artistic abilities.

“Artistic spaces represent calming, creative environments, where all students can develop their powers of reflection and interpretation.  Hopefully, our students will view this painting today not only through the lens of the story which it tells, but also through the lens of inspiration and a belief in self, namely the self-belief needed to pursue those things which can bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment,” Ms. Bradshaw opined.

The mural, entitled The Journey, was created by artists Kwami Hunte and Sherri Nicholls.  It captures and depict skills in fibre arts, craft, agriculture, sports and technology. It also seeks to capture the story of the Ann Hill School through its images.

Minister Bradshaw said the mural spoke to the Ministry of Education’s commitment to inclusiveness in all of its educational offerings, which was based on the principles of “quality education for all’ and “no child left behind”.

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