By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, March 15, 2023 – Teachers may have walked off the job in Grand Turk earlier today.
Parents at the Eliza Simons Primary School in Grand Turk were forced to pull out of work early today after being called in before midday to come and pick up their children from school; several of them reached out to Magnetic Media about the issue.
Despite our contact at the Ministry of Education not shedding light on the reason the school closed early; it is widely said that a disagreement amongst staff is behind the sudden closure and so called, SICK OUT.
Immediately after our newsroom received the report, Mark Garland, the Deputy Director of the MOE was contacted. He informed that the Department’s information is, school was progressing as normal.
There has been no update up to news production time on the matter and whether it will impact school operations on Wednesday.
Years in the Making, Turks & Caicos Opens Special Needs Department
#TurksandCaicos, March 3, 2024 – For years the curation of special needs services has been a community wide effort in the Turks and Caicos Islands, now the hard work has culminated in the launch of the Department of Special Education Needs Services (DSENS).
The department, entirely dedicated to special needs and headed by a Turks and Caicos Islander, was officially launched on February 27. Attending the event were Anya Williams, Acting Governor; Washington Misick, TCI Premier; Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, and dozens of residents, special needs students and teachers.
Minister Taylor described what the new department meant for residents.
“This Department stands as a beacon of hope and opportunity for individuals with special needs signaling a new empowerment and inclusion,” she said.
The minister maintained that it was her passion as a trained educator to make sure all students had access to education. Taylor admitted though that students with special needs have been underserved and overlooked for far too long.
The Turks and Caicos has struggled repeatedly with sufficient expert care for special needs and a special needs institution has been in the works for years without completion.
“We anticipate the opening of the Special Needs Centre, a long-awaited development that will provide our children abroad with the opportunity to return home and receive the specialized education and support they need,” Taylor updated during the event, but did not provide a date for the opening.
For her part, Anya Williams, Acting Governor with responsibility for the public service, revealed that the process of hiring a sufficient complement of staff to serve the country was extremely difficult. With this in mind she had strict words for local students studying in special needs care and treatment areas overseas.
“It is your duty to return to the Turks and Caicos because often we provide the scholarships and the means for persons to qualify themselves and when they complete they advise us that they’re not returning,” she continued “I’m calling you out and saying that it is your duty to return home and I will ask the Ministry of Education to enforce your bond. That is necessary.”
Washington Misick, TCI Premier, promised that the government was focused on creating an accessible Turks and Caicos for everyone.
“The focus of the government is no one left behind so it doesn’t matter who you are— what is the degree of your infirmity or special needs.”
Newly hired Department Head, Dr. Anya Malcolm Gibbs, highlighted the history of special needs care locally.
“The roots of special needs development in the Turks and Caicos can be traced back to the 1980’s where the work needs was a program in the welfare department introduced by Paul Crooks from the United Kingdom,” she explained.
That work was followed by support from the British Development Division in 1992 via a special needs coordinator. By 1993 the local government took control of the area.
The late Marion Williams was acknowledged by Taylor as a key player in the special needs industry. Thanked for their service also, were Leo Selver, Jas Walkin, Earl Fulford the One World Foundation, Therapy Abroad and others.
Currently there are 17 special needs teachers, a specialist classrooms at the Eliza Simons Primary and a Special Needs Resource Centre at the Adelaide Oemler Primary.
Community Engagement Continues from Police
#TurksandCaicos, February 27th, 2024 – On Tuesday, 20th February 2024, Community Policing officers visited the Ianthe Pratt Primary School and several businesses in Providenciales. Officers undertook these visits to educate and inform persons, provide safety tips, foster trust and bridge the gaps between law enforcement and the community.Places visited include Rosie’s Boutique in Town Centre Mall, the Gustavus Lightbourne Sports Complex, the Department of Education and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Semi-Finals of Nat’l Tourism Debate Competition Showcases Insightful Perspectives
The National Tourism Debate Competition reached an enthralling climax as four top high schools competed in the semi-finals, competing for coveted spots in the finals. The collaborative effort led by the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Social Services in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, received invaluable support from the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association and the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College (TCICC), along with the Edward C. Gartland Youth Center.
In the first debate, Clement Howell High School and Precious Treasures engaged in a compelling exchange of ideas, deliberating the motion, “This house believes that Human Resource Managers within the accommodations sector should be reserved for Turks and Caicos Islanders.” The thought-provoking discourse showcased the students’ depth of understanding of the topic.
The second debate saw Maranatha Academy and A. Louise Garland High School passionately debate the motion, “This house believes that all-inclusive resorts are not as beneficial as perceived to the local economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands and no new licenses should be issued.” The students’ insightful perspectives and comprehensive analysis of the impact of all-inclusive resorts on the local economy left judges with a challenging task in determining the finalists.
The esteemed judge panel included Michelle Hosten, Head of Tourism Faculty, TCICC, Stacey-Ann W. Albert, TCHTA and Dr. Barbara Ambrister, Chairperson – TCICC. After deliberation Precious Treasures and Maranatha Academy emerged as finalists, having showcased exceptional, intellectual insight of the complex issues within tourism. Mr. Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education chaired the event and Mr. Brian Been, Tourism Policy Manager was time keeper.
Dr. Barbara Ambrister, Chief Judge, commended the debaters for their preparation, research, and engagement, stating, “The semi-final debates were a testament to the students’ dedication and passion for exploring critical issues within the tourism industry. Their intellectual rigor, and eloquence were truly commendable, setting the stage for an exhilarating final showdown.”
The Hon. Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism applauded the students’ understanding and desire to addressing vital issues within the tourism industry. “The semi-final debates showcased their exceptional talent and knowledge and their passion goes well for our islands’ future.”
The Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, lauded the participants for their exemplary performance and the organizers for event excellence. “The semi-final debates were a testament to the students’ critical thinking skills and their ability to articulate well-researched arguments. I am confident that the finalists will continue to elevate the level of discourse in the final round.”
As the competition advances to the finals, the excitement continues to build as Precious Treasures and Maranatha Academy prepare to engage in a battle of intellect and persuasion.
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