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May 31, 2018

Building Bridges to Children with Special Needs

Earlier today, dozens of stakeholders in the education sector gathered in Belize City for the annual Building Bridges Conference.  It’s a symposium which focuses on special education and access for children with diverse abilities.  A team from UNLV is presently in country to facilitate various aspects of the workshop which is supported by the Ministry of Education.  Doctor Candy Armstrong is the Director for Education Support Services with the ministry.

 

Dr. Candy Armstrong, Director, Education Support Services

“Our activities today is a Building Bridges Conference.  It’s a special education conference and it’s sponsored by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.  Throughout the day we have concurrent presentations where teachers from our special schools and special classrooms, teachers who teach children with disabilities will be exposed to current research in the area of special education and best practices.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Is there a particular reason why the focus this time around is on special education?”

 

Candy Armstrong

Dr. Candy Armstrong

“The focus of the Building Bridges Conference is always special education.  This is a conference that has been held in different parts of the world.  Like in 2014, it was held in Australia and now in 2018, it’s held in Belize.  But the focus is special education.  The common thread is the fact that it doesn’t matter where in the world we are, it’s a matter of ensuring that every child has quality and relevant education.  And so, when we say every child, it also includes our children with exceptional learning needs and so we look at special education.  As a ministry, we have been involved in many activities to promote acceptance and inclusion, I mean to sensitize schools and communities to ensure that children with special needs have access to education and that means that they are in school.  And so when they have access and they come to school, then how is it then that we ensure that they get a good quality education.  So we look at what research says in terms of best practices and then we look at our own experiences because that is one of the things that will happen over the next two days, for today too because our local special education officers will be co-presenting with the professors from different universities.  So we are hoping that not only will we be getting a chance to look at research and theory, but we could bring that practical component in terms of our own experiences in our own context, so that the opportunities to apply some of those things increases.”

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