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Years in the Making, Turks & Caicos Opens Special Needs Department

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

#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.

Caribbean News

HACKATHON TO EMPOWER CARIBBEAN GIRLS TO BECOME LEADERS IN STEM SECTOR

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KINGSTON, April 12 (JIS):

eLearning Jamaica Company Limited (e-LJAM) has partnered with local educational technology company, STEAMHouse, in hosting this year’s Crea+her Girls in ICT Hackathon, which began on April 11 and will end on April 16.

The virtual hackathon seeks to empower Caribbean girls aged 13 to 18 years to become leaders and accomplished professionals in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry.

Chief Executive Officer of e-LJAM, Andrew Lee, said the initiative allows participants to acquire skills through a hands-on approach.

“It is imperative that we actively engage girls to participate in STEM. Historically, girls have been under-represented in this field and, of course, this deprives us of diversity. Our females are extremely talented and when we include them, we get a broader perspective,” Mr. Lee told JIS News.

e-LJAM is the State agency with responsibility for promoting integration and infusion of technology in the public education system.

Founder of STEAMHouse, Godiva Golding, told JIS News that approximately 15 teams representing groups of three to five students signed up for the hackathon.

The participants are being guided to develop innovative solutions combining themes such as telecommunications, cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence, focusing on areas like education, environmental sustainability and preserving cultural heritage.

(more)

Hackathon to empower…2

Their prototypes will be evaluated on April 18 and the top-10 creations will be presented on April 25, which is being recognised as International Girls in ICT Day under the theme ‘Leadership’.

Ms. Golding is pleased to have e-LJAM as the title sponsor for the hackathon and other events around International Girls in ICT Day.

“We could not think of a better partner than e-LJAM. They have been at the forefront and have done great work over the years. Having a partner with the leadership of Mr. Lee on board is just the icing on top to ensure that this is a successful series of events,” Ms. Golding said.

A special school tour will also be conducted. At least 500 girls are expected to benefit from this programme, which will offer interactive sessions and networking opportunities with accomplished women leaders in the technology field.

Additionally, the participants will have the chance to develop vital skills, such as public speaking, strategic thinking, and confidence-building.

CONTACT: ROCHEDA BARTLEY

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Caribbean News

Efforts to deliver education to Children in Haiti – Schools still closed

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#Haiti#Education, April 9, 2024 – With schools across Haiti still shut down due to intense gang violence, UNICEF is making efforts to deliver education to students, working with the Ministry of Education. They are trying to deliver distance learning through radio, television and e-learning platforms and right now, solutions are being explored through Haiti’s national radio station. Announced in a press release by UN News on April 7, this comes as UN agencies warned that Haitian children are suffering from not just a lack of education but also primary exposure to violence.

 

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Education

MEMBERS OF THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ATTEND ASCD 2024 CONFERENCE

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The Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Education proudly announces the successful participation of its esteemed members at the prestigious Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) 2024 conference in Washington DC. The delegation, comprised of Education Officers, Principals, and specialized teacher groups, showcased their dedication to excellence in education and commitment to staying abreast of cutting-edge methodologies.

The conference, held from March 22-25th 2024 served as a platform for educators worldwide to converge, exchange ideas, and delve into the latest trends shaping the educational landscape. Among the driving topics that garnered significant attention were Universal Design for Learning (UDL), differentiation strategies, and the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in educational practices.

The delegation from the Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Education had an enriching experience at the ASCD 2024 conference, participating in discussions and workshops on Early Childhood, School Safety, UDL, differentiation, and AI technology has equipped them with invaluable insights and tools to enhance teaching and learning outcomes in their schools.

The conference provided a forum for educators to explore innovative approaches to curriculum development, instructional design, and student engagement. Members of the delegation seized the opportunity to network with international counterparts, fostering collaborations that will further enrich the educational landscape of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The ASCD 2024 conference was said to be a truly enlightening experience. The team returned home inspired and empowered to implement new strategies that will cater to the diverse needs of our students while harnessing the potential new skills and technology to personalize learning experiences.

Hon Taylor Minister of Education added ” I commend and fully support our teachers’ participation in the ASCD 2024 conference. Investing in professional development opportunities like this not only enhances the skills and knowledge of our educators but also contributes significantly to the ongoing development of our human capital. The returns on this investment directly impact our educational landscape, fostering a more dynamic and effective learning environment for all stakeholders involved.”

The Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Education extends its gratitude to ASCD for organizing a dynamic and impactful conference and looks forward to continued collaboration with educators worldwide to shape the future of education.

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