Education minister focuses on special needs during School of Exceptional Child visit


Minister Mondon interacting with some pupils during her visit yesterday at the School for the Exceptional Child

The visit of Minister Macsuzy Mondon and Odile Octave forms part of a series of visits the minister has been doing every week in schools around the country.

The minister was greeted on arrival at the school by head teacher Monica Accouche.

Speaking to the press after touring each classroom and talking to pupils and teachers, Mrs Mondon noted that the aim of the visit was also to see how the school is functioning, assess its needs and apprise of the difficulties it is facing and how it is coping.

She noted that as the School for the Exceptional Child caters for pupils with special needs, it therefore needs more and special attention.

Minister Mondon noted that the visit to the School for the Exceptional Child also comes at an opportune time as her ministry is reviewing its special needs education programme – relooking at the way it is being delivered and see the various additional related programmes and resources required.
She noted that as part of this review, the Ministry of Education believes there is a need to relook at the functions and operations of the School for the Exceptional Child, build up its capacity and seek ways to use it to better give support to normal schools.

Minister Mondon further added that while it reviews the operations and functions of the School for the Exceptional Child in relation to special needs education, the ministry will also look at ways to better harmonise all the work being done so as to offer better quality service and education to pupils with special needs. A particular aspect of the special needs education which Minister Mondon stressed on is autism.

“The Ministry of Education needs to have in place appropriate services to cater for these pupils, train teachers to work with them, and have the necessary programmes in place to ensure that these pupils receive the care and attention their condition requires,” said Mrs Mondon.

While the minister believes that the School for the Exceptional Child has been well maintained she admits that there is a need for new equipment and she took the opportunity to launch an appeal to all loyal sponsors of the school to in future focus more on the school’s and pupils’ needs and things that will help them in their education and development.

The minister observed that at present the infrastructure of the School for the Exceptional Child is sufficient and can cater for the number of pupils which has decreased considerably since the ministry reinforced measures to ensure pupils with not so severe disabilities are enrolled in normal schools.

Mrs Mondon noted that such pupils are closely monitored and the ministry is looking at ways to give more support to schools and teachers where these pupils are enrolled.

Mrs Mondon pointed out that there is at present ample space for the pupils and their teachers.
The school has at present 56 pupils aged between 4 and 16 years, and 24 teachers.

As part of its review of the services for the special needs programme, the Ministry of Education is also considering transforming the School for the Exceptional Child into a centre for special needs where all the related services and personnel will be based.

During her visit Minister Mondon also visited the outside compound of the school and apprised of all the outdoor activities in place as part of the pupils’ education and therapy and these include a well-maintained vegetable garden where a few pupils were busy tending to under the guidance of long-time instructor Milona Jeremie.

Young Davidson Mathiot was proud to show Minister Mondon all the Chinese cabbage he had planted.

Pupils were also busy painting in the arts room and arts teacher Andre Sinon said the pupils have enough interesting paintings to display during the forthcoming open day.