PRESS RELEASE – THE Saint Lucia National Youth Council (NYC) is dissatisfied with the level of attention given to special needs education in Saint Lucia. Particularly, we are gravely concerned by the myriad of issues burdening staff and students of the Special Education Centre in Vieux Fort.
The institution, established in November 1991, has provided special needs assistance for southern students for 26 years. Hence, it is unfortunate that in addition to basic programme support, the school continues to deal with longstanding structural issues.
To date, the NYC is aware of several challenges faced by the Centre. These include termite infestation, lack of proper and adequate equipment to administer the curriculum, and insufficient space to comfortably accommodate students, among others. Additionally, flooding following heavy rainfall continues to cripple their agricultural programme, render the playground unusable and further contributes to the deterioration of the wooden structure.
The NYC believes that special needs education must remain at the forefront in the enhancement of our country’s education sector. This requires the introduction of specialized training for all staff employed at these institutions, a revamp of our country’s special needs programme and infrastructure.
As Education Ministers prepare to convene this month at the 20th Commonwealth Conference for Education Ministers under the theme, “Sustainability and Resilience: Can Education Deliver?”, we hope to see a renewed impetus to create an inclusive education sector.
The Vieux Fort Special Education Centre is the longest-serving special needs school on island and has, among other institutions, developed youth who have gone on to make vital contributions to our society.