Special education needs trainers strengthen skills


21-April-2009

Mrs Simeon addressing guests and delegates at the opening of the workshop yesterday

A five-day workshop being held at the National Institute of Education (NIE) forms part of a joint project with Roehampton University in London and the Teacher Training Department of Grenada.

The project falls under the cooperation programme in higher education between the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states and the European Union, and is funded by the European Development Fund.

The aim is to develop a model for capacity building in mainstream pre-primary and primary school teachers in Seychelles and Grenada.

Attending the launch yesterday were Minister for Education Bernard Shamlaye, principal secretary Jeanne Simeon, director for schools Merida Delcy, other ministry officials, NIE management and headteachers.

Three delegates from Grenada will be present throughout the training to observe, and two from Roehampton to conduct the sessions.

Teacher trainers from the NIE and staff from the Ministry of Education involved in special needs education are the targeted groups.

Addressing the audience, Mrs Delcy said: “As we are now undergoing major reforms in our education system, we need to rethink our practices with regard to meeting the needs of our children.

“The results of this training will be immense for the trainers as they will be able to train other teachers in the coming years.”

She said the need for this project in Grenada and Seychelles was highlighted in recent research carried out in both countries.

The findings showed that teachers have a negative attitude towards inclusion of special needs children in mainstream classes through fear of not meeting these needs. 

In her opening speech Mrs Simeon said: “This training will equip local trainers to deliver quality training in special and inclusive education, and so further build the capacity of mainstream teachers.”

She said such programmes at the level of universities and teacher training institutions come at a time when Seychelles is planning reforms in its education system.

“It fits well with the review of the NIE’s programme as it will help to improve teacher training capacities and develop links with external partners,” she said.

She told the trainers their role will be to boost the teachers’ understanding of special education needs students, so they become more positive about including them in classroom teaching.

Mrs Simeon also said her ministry will ensure that mechanisms are put in place to support the project, which is entitled: Bridging the gap at pre-primary and primary schools through training for special education needs.

Through the workshop, the trainers will learn more about perceptions of inclusion, curriculum differentiation, factors that influence learning, and links between language and literacy.

Project convenor Cathleen Svensson and project trainer Sulochni Pather, both from Roehampton University, are conducting the sessions.

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