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May 9, 2013

In-depth, inside the classroom; 143 students with special needs take P.S.E.

For parents and families who have children with special needs, education begins early and at home. But the challenge is greater once they enroll in schools because few are equipped with the necessary tools. There are over one hundred and forty students in schools across the country who have special needs that range from autism to cerebral palsy. Like so many other children, they were among those who sat the P.S.E. earlier this year. It was a learning experience for News Five’s Jose Sanchez who followed the children on this important day.


Jannelly Dougal, Student, All Saints Primary School

“I thought it was a little bit challenging. But everything you get it was kinda difficult. But I felt good about it and I think I get it right.”


Shanique Baltazar, Student, All Saints Primary School

“Our teacher prepared us very well. It was a breeze for me.”


Leandra Estrada, Student, All Saints Primary School

“Science and the language mi kinda easy. The math two mi challenging. The social studies that mi kinda easy a little bit, but the math two mi really challenging. 


Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Those responses are typical of the students who sit the Primary School Examination. But of the seven thousand nine hundred and thirty-one candidates there are additional challenges for some. There are twelve areas in which schools can apply for their students, via a green sheet from the Examinations Unit for special requests. Those requests are forwarded to the National Resource Center for Inclusive Education (NARCIE), which facilitates those special needs.


Sharon August

Sharon August, Manager, NARCIE

“Students can be referred for special arrangements for having any one of those areas—whether they are visually impaired, hearing impaired, whether they have health disorders, behavioral disorder, autism and other areas. Through educating principals and teachers and letting them know that these personal arrangements are available for students that have special needs, then they apply for it.”


This mother and daughter team applied for special needs. There is silence in Jamie Muschamp’s days at school, but her world which extends beyond her class at Stella Maris School, is far from quiet.


Jamie Muschamp

Jamie Muschamp, Special Needs Student

“I’m tough, I like volleyball and I like school. She says she wants to go to Nazarene High School.”


Mother of Jamie Muschamp

“Hoping and praying that she do get the opportunity to get the experience of going to high school and having an interpreter with her. She can’t do it alone. The teachers at the high schools right now aren’t equipped with the knowledge of sign language.”


Another school that caters to special needs is Hattieville Government School and that’s where I first heard the soulful crooner, Jordan Dyer.


{Jordan Dyer singing}


Jordan Dyer

Though he flawlessly carries a tune, autism prevents him from harmonious speech. The school star understands how it makes him different.


Jordan Dyer, student, Hattieville Government School

“I was talking to myself and feeling like I was talking to myself and getting crazy. And then at home I was jumping at the tree and then I was on the hill running up and down like I was getting dizzy.”


Nicole Allen, student, Hattieville Government School

“Sometimes Jordan don’t understand the work and sometimes he feels mortified about himself, I would try to help him and show him how to do the work and let him try to get the concept of it.”


Jordan Dyer

“I was doing reading comprehension and letter writing and a story. But I was doing story maps, but then first I was writing a letter.”


Nicole Allen

“When he would get it, he would be excited and sometimes when he don’t get it, he would slam the book down. And I would try to calm him down.”


With one hundred and forty-three special needs students scattered across the country, NARCIE ensures that all students with disabilities or special needs have access to schools and appropriate education by stationing itinerary resource officers in each district. I asked NARCIE’s manager about the concerns of the hearing impaired.


Sharon August

“There is very limited resources when it comes to interpreters in Belize for the deaf. So as the students succeed at the primary and move on to secondary education, one of the things that we are currently looking at for students who are deaf in the Belize District is to meet with the parents and come to the agreement of what school would be best for the student to go to so that they can have access to an interpreter because we do not have five or six interpreters for each to go to a school so that there can be interpreter support. But if they go to one school, then that interpreter will be there to serve them as a group.”


Jose Sanchez

“Looking at the statistics, it appears that the majority of special requests are coming from the Orange Walk District as over the years. Has anyone looked into the reason why?”


Sharon August

“It has been Orange Walk and Cayo District with the highest numbers with Orange Walk having the highest for the last two years. When a student just has a reading problem; to say that the student does not have a learning disability that is causing a reading problem. It is just that the student failed to get the necessary reading foundation from earlier on in the infant years and they came up through the system lacking that foundation so when they reach standard six they are still struggling with reading. That is not a disability.”


Jose Sanchez

“What could schools do in addition to requesting special arrangements at P.S.E. time that could benefit these children?”


Sharon August

“As soon as they identified that that student has some kind of special need to refer that student because then intervention can be put in place, training can be provided for teachers that they can better served those students; that they can get the support that they need to come up to the level they can get up to before they reach standard six.”


To find out what happens after PSE, I spoke to this mobile young man, Kerri Clare. Afflicted by cerebral palsy, Clare’s special need was a writer.


Kerri Clare

Kerri Clare, Student, Nazarene High School

“When I took the P.S.E., my dad was taking the time to study with me. So I am telling parents to spend more time to study with the kids. Some of my friends in my class assist me to write my notes and I study off the notes. I was a little bit nervous also because it is new faces, new people and I wanted to see how they’ll react to me. So far, the reaction has been good. I love that class. “


Yvonne Davis, Principal Education Officer, National Exams

Yvonne Davis

“The secondary schools have been very accommodating to ensure that these students are given the accommodations that were requested by NARCIE.”


He’s now finishing his first year in 1C at Nazarene High School.


On Day 2 of PSE, I found Jordan Dyer accommodated with a reader at Wesley College. NARCIE and the Ministry of Education can only do so much.  The country needs to follow suit and be equipped to foster the development of all their futures.


Kerri Clare

“Finish high school, go through sixth form first and from there, destiny will take over. So whatever happens in the future it will happen.”


Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.


There were about ten students who were unable to return to their testing center for Day two. Administrative issues at Pallotti High School made it mandatory for NARCIE to take those students to the ITVET to sit their exams. 

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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1 Response for “In-depth, inside the classroom; 143 students with special needs take P.S.E.”

  1. Storm says:

    I really admire these heroic kids, who are trying to get through life with greater burdens than most of us will ever have to carry. Thanks to the educators who make the very special effort to help them, and I’m sure with too few resources. At least Belize is making some effort to help them, in many other nations they are usually pushed aside and forgotten, unwanted souls.

    I hope our programs top help these special kids will grow and strengthen.

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