Specialised programmes are needed in Barbadian schools for children considered ???not so bright??? and ???not so intelligent??? in order that they may develop at their own pace and be the best that they can be.

President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Pedro Shepherd, underscored this point today as he addressed the official start of the Second Summer Institute on Special Education at the Deighton Griffith Secondary School, Kingsland, Christ Church.

The workshop is a collaborative effort on the part of the BUT, the Canadian Teachers??? Federation (CTF) and the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation and runs until Friday, July 26.

Mr. Shepherd explained that while there was a need to strive for excellence, at the same time it was important to recognise the value of everyone???s contribution towards making a society function.

The BUT President said: ???We know that all students learn at different rates, but yet we sometimes preach something else and that is why I believe there is some confusion surrounding the BSSEE [Barbados Secondary Schools??? Entrance Examination], what I consider to be a nonsensical debate now taking place over the performance of public schools versus private schools.

???We allow for deferrals at the primary level and allow for stop down at the secondary level. Do we ever defer a child to achieve mastery [of a particular subject] or are we satisfied that he or she has done his/her best and scored above 80 per cent.???

A cross section of the over 60 teachers attending the 10-day Summer Institute on Special Education?? being hosted by the?? Barbados Union of Teachers in conjunction with?? ??the Canadian Teachers??? Federation (CTF) and the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, at Deighton Griffith School, Kingsland, Christ Church. (A.Miller/BGIS)

He urged the over 60 teachers present to use the training to make interventions in the lives of weaker children, where it was most critical; to be determined to find workable alternatives to reach children and recommit themselves to the concept that ???each child matters??? despite the serious challenges which confronted teachers today.

???The teacher is most critical going forward as we have to educate and train our people to become qualified and certified but also to accept that work is work and that all vocations working together is what makes a society. No country in the world, no matter how good its education system is would ever produce all of a kind. Society needs teachers as much as it needs bus drivers and taxi men as it needs farmers and fishermen?????? said the BUT President.

Acknowledging that 2014 would mark the final year of the three-year Summer Institute, initiated by his Union in collaboration with the Ministry and the Canadian Teacher Federation, Mr. Shepherd expressed the hope that the partnership would be extended and told teachers that the BUT ???would spare no effort in the search for continuously providing professional development opportunities for its members???.

He noted that in a similar manner that teachers were sent to Union College in the United States to pursue studies, the BUT could examine the possibility of sending teachers on scholarships to Canada. And, he expressed the hope that by the end of next year???s Summer Institute the course would be accredited by the Education Ministry, for the over 300 participants who would have attended.

Meanwhile, Team Leader, Brian Gallagher of the CTF said they looked forward to continuing the partnership. Pointing out that CTF understood some of the issues faced by teachers here and were willing to share their experience and learn as well, he stressed: ???Together, we will work towards the common goal of quality education for all students. We hope that each of you will leave this Institute with renewed energy to implement new ideas in your classroom in September.???

Encouraging them to use the training as a way to bring out the best in their students, he mentioned Pakistani student, Malala yousafzai, as an example of someone who was forcibly removed from a school there, last October. Mr. Gallagher told them that it was instructive to hear ???this brave young woman???s??? speech delivered last Saturday at the United Nations in New York City and urged them to reflect on her words, ???I raised up my voice not so that I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard???.

???Take a moment as we begin our Summer Institute to think of your student in your classroom, especially those students who struggle with learning and how we can give them a voice ??? an advocate for inclusive education for all,??? Mr. Gallagher said.



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