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Jun 8, 2007

New Special Ed. Resource Centre opened

Story PictureWithout doubt, special education in Belize has come a long way. Tonight News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports on the latest developments underway to ensure that everyone is treated equally.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
This morning, government representatives, parents, and students officially declared open the National Resource Centre of the Special Education Unit.

Five thousand students with special needs currently attend regular public schools, while approximately three hundred and fifty boys and girls are enrolled at Stella Maris and in similar institutions and centres across the country.

Eleanor Enriquez, Coordinator, Special Ed. Unit
“But that has always been seen at least by us and by large by the general public as a separate system. We want to have a national effort made to include, an inclusive system where all children are seen and given the same opportunities to excel and perform to the best of their abilities.”

According to Coordinator Eleanor Enriquez, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and community partners, the centre’s mandate is to create healthy environments for every child … starting in the classroom.

Eleanor Enriquez
“Teachers do complain and teachers do say we don’t know what to do, we lack resources, we lack this, lack that, but our thing is if there is a will, there’s a way and the majority of the students are progressing in the regular school system, all we need to do now is fortify the system, to ensure that all the children are included and they can do well in that system.”

Those efforts are already ongoing and include teacher training and outreach, and the sharing of resources.

Arlette Bevans, Bernice Yorke Institute
“I have had the pleasure I should say of teaching two children with special needs and for me it has been challenging in the sense that it helped me a lot to learn more about myself, more about children with those needs. For us, what we do at the school, we attend all workshops that they have, we find out when it is or Ms. Neal would call and tell us and it would help us.”

“What they basically do is teach us. The last workshop I went to was teaching us how to teach comprehension. We have words that are synonyms and we need to actually go into exactly what it is. There are some children who they are not really completely deaf so there words that you need to actually say to them, that you need to actually pronounce, open your mouth like “star” and “start” just make sure that you enunciate.”

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
“And as well, I know the Special Education Unit their team spends a lot of time working with parents, communities, and families because in a real sense that is where the greatest challenge lie, that is where the greatest burdens falls, on families, trying to ensure that families are educated, that they are properly informed on how best to deal with the challenges of having a special needs child. Very, very difficult, but it’s a very important effort that we have to continue to undertake.”

During this morning’s ceremony, Minister of Education Francis Fonseca also presented a twenty thousand dollar donation towards the Special Olympics team that will represent Belize at the event later this year in Shanghai, China. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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