NASSAU, The Bahamas – The opportunity for teachers to earn a Master’s Degree in Special Education is being explored as a means to tackle the deficit in this discipline.
The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training, made the announcement in an address to the nation as students and teachers returned to the classroom for face-to-face learning Monday, August 29, 2022 following a three-year absence.
“It is imperative that we match teachers with every subject that is needed. We have been working to accomplish this task, particularly in many disciplines that have become even more urgent during the period of remote learning,” said Minister Hanna-Martin.
“One such area is special education, and in fact, children with special needs have perhaps suffered most in the virtual learning environment. Special education teachers are in short supply. To address this deficit the Ministry is currently in discussion with a major international university to provide an opportunity for our teachers to read for a Master’s Degree in special education, a programme not currently available at the University of The Bahamas. This will assist the ministry to meet the requirements of our special needs students so that they too may realize their full potential and in accordance with our national credo that every child counts,” she said.
During the televised address for the 2022-2023 Back-To-School year, Minister Hanna-Martin thanked the administration of the Ministry for their “diligent” attention and hard work and shared some of the work the Ministry has been engaged in the past 11 months.
She said, “In Education we have a very ambitious agenda and our efforts are accelerated because the stakes are high. I have coined this year as the year of the turnaround in education and a period of powerful human development of our young people. This cannot and will not be achieved by teachers and politicians and the public servants alone. We need more and more and more of our parents to participate as full stakeholders in the educational outcomes for their children.”
She underscored the safety and security of campuses and noted that security staff personnel are undergoing specialized training at the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with the first squad having graduated two weeks ago and training for the remaining officers to take place shortly.
Moreover, she said several officers of the RBPF have been assigned by the Commissioner of Police to junior and senior high schools throughout the country.
“These officers are specially trained having received international certification as School Resource officers and they will work in collaboration with the principal of the respective schools to assist in securing campuses and in guiding students on an array of vexing social issues by way of a curriculum which these officers will deliver. Our children must be permitted to learn in a healthy and safe environment without fear or risk of suffering serious harm.”
Furthermore, Minister Hanna-Martin noted that a review of the curriculum is in effect and the most recent revision rolled out.
“This will be monitored and adjusted as needed for maximum achievement of these objectives. These changes will be seen at the pre-primary level with an early focus on STREAM education exposing students to science, technology, reading, the arts and mathematics, at the primary level, with an urgent and intense focus on literacy. For students in grades 4 to 6, an introduction to coding and just this summer scores of public primary school teachers attended training workshops in the teaching of coding.
“High school students will be introduced to robotics and scientific inquiry. There will be greater integration of technical and vocational training and certification and apprenticeship at the high school level and that groundwork is underway. Our students will learn about climate change and the peculiar vulnerability of our own nation and investigate strategies for our survival.”
Plans are afoot to expand the swimming curriculum in six additional primary schools beginning in 2023.
Minister Hanna-Martin said this is an “essential” skill for children painfully highlighted by the drowning deaths of several children during the summer.
The physical education curriculum is being revamped to include after school sporting activities to enhance physical and mental well-being, and develop sporting excellence.
She said discussions are taking place to develop an enhanced creative arts curriculum to include dance, music, art and the dramatic arts.