With all that’s been going on, concern expressed about special education by National Alliance (NA) leader Silveria Jacobs in Parliament recently should not go unnoticed. She raised the alarm over the apparent elimination of the Education Care Center (ECC) programme.
Jacobs, a former education minister herself, explained that the latter had come to be based on reports of an excessive number of suspensions and even expulsions in schools. It was established as a behaviour modification tool after much discussion with St. Maarten Student Support Services, before Hurricane Irma damaged the location at Charles Leopold Bell School in Cole Bay.
The NA leader said a solution had been sought and the programme was restarted to some extent, but she learned it had been discontinued at the end of the past schoolyear. Her main worries were youngsters who need this type of guidance and what happened to the staff.
Current Minister Wycliffe Smith (SMCP) will come back to the legislature to answer questions asked as is customary, but he did promise some information, including evaluation reports of the ECC. It’s been a week, so perhaps he can shed some light on the issue pending the next Parliament meeting; for example, in Wednesday’s press briefing.
People want to know, because the fact remains that special education is not one of the country’s strong points. Despite several – mostly private – commendable initiatives and efforts regrading this matter, it’s still hard to get youths with different abilities the extra support they need locally.
This is more important than many may realise, because these same kids are often actually very gifted in one way or another but simply require a distinct and somewhat tailor-made approach to reach their full potential.