Statement By Minister For Education And Culture Honourable Myron Walwyn
At The Fourth Sitting Of The Fourth Session Of
The Second House Of Assembly Of The Virgin Islands
THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015
Scholarships For The Differently-Abled
Madame Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to share with this Honourable House an update on our scholarships for students who are differently-abled. Madame Speaker in March 2014, I informed this Honourable House of an initiative of the Ministry of Education to offer two scholarships per year to assist students with special needs to seek secondary education outside the Territory.
For September 2014 we assisted two students to attend the Vanguard School for students with Special needs in Florida. Madame Speaker, the school is a Boarding institution and the students apart from doing academic studies are also taught how to become independent, taking care of themselves and also their fellow students. The school provides comprehensive special education and clinical services in a highly personalized setting through academic and extra-curricular programmes and activities to promote learning as well as the development of communication and interpersonal skills.
The school, Madame Speaker has been in existence since 1959 and serves students between the ages of 4 – 21 years with an array of exceptionalities including autism spectrum disorder, neurological and speech-language impairments and socio-emotional difficulties. Madame Speaker when the placement officer visited us just about a year ago, I was convinced that this institution was one which could help our students until we got our system in order. It provides a unique focus on the individual child and his or her readiness for life.
The first two students, Madame Speaker, were Kaheem Malone and Shamari Palmer. These students from all reports have adjusted well to the school environment and are doing well in their studies. The school describes each student as making tremendous progress and they are now getting A’s in some subjects. This has boosted their self esteem and with their work modified to suit their particular challenges, they are making strides in the right direction both academically and socially.
Madame Speaker, we intend to continue on this journey as we work locally to improve the education system to take care of our students who are differently abled. This year Madame Speaker we will be selecting another two students for a five-year scholarship to attend the Vanguard School in Florida. In order to select these students, interested parents are asked to submit a letter of application addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Attention: Ms Sabrina Matthew at the Ministry of Education and Culture. Letters should be submitted no later than April 30th. A selection will be made based on criteria set up by the Ministry and parents will be advised accordingly.
As we move forward in creating a culture of excellence, we will continue to endeavour to create opportunities for ALL students to succeed and become active citizens in the development of our Territory.
Thank you Madame Speaker.