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New teaching aids for special needs children

Chief Media Resource Officer Walter Harper demonstrating how this Spanish teaching aid works to this teacher.

Special need children will be getting even greater attention from the Ministry of Education, through its Media Resource Department soon.

This was the indication of Chief Media Resource Officer of the Ministry of Education, Walter Harper, as he spoke after a graduation ceremony for about a dozen teachers who participated in a “Creation of Wooden Manipulatives for Primary School Teachers” workshop.

Held at the St. Leonard’s School, the workshop saw the creation of close to 50 new aids, intended for use by four- to seven-year-olds in primary schools.

Even as he said they were about to add plastic as a material to use in next year’s workshops and noted that they were also hoping to add a digital element, Harper said though that they were moving now to make special needs the next focus.

“What we are doing this year, we are having a consultation on special needs so that the teachers themselves will tell us about the materials they want, including hardware and software, to put that in our budget, so that next summer we will be introducing a new workshop just for them.

“We must first identify the needs and put it as a line item in our budget so that monies will then be available in April and then between April and June we would then acquire what is needed and after that we can have the workshop,” said the chief.

Asked how the department was currently working with those with special needs, Harper added: “We have a number of our officers who are trained, under the EduTech programme that was provided for training by Mount St. Vincent University in conjunction with Erdiston Teachers Training College. They have Bachelor Degrees, such as Charmaine Seale [the creator of the Manipulatives in Wood Workshop]. So we do have specialists in some of the areas in our department. What we don’t have we out source.”

While they had not thought yet about copyrighting any of the innovative materials already made during the workshops, Harper said he believed that would happen in time.

He said too that it was not uncommon for one teacher in the workshop to create several pieces by the end of the two-week sessions.

“You would find a teacher producing eight, nine, ten pieces themselves. We have not displayed all because some would have gone home already and they own them. What the Media Resource Department would do is that we purchase the materials and we keep the end product.” (LB)

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