Acting Jamaica’s Chief Education Officer, Clement Radcliffe, is appealing to parents to ensure that their children undergo the structured medical examination, being implemented by the Ministry, to detect any physical or mental abnormalities, which could affect learning and behaviour.
Mr. Radcliffe, who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, said the aim is to give educators and parents an early indication of any problems to have these addressed early.
“We want to identify problems at the start, so that remedial action can be devised and implemented in a humane, effective and practical way,” he stated.
Students entering school at the early childhood level, grade one at primary school and grade seven in secondary school, are being asked to take the structured medical examination.
Mr. Radcliffe said that the testing process, which is in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, will begin this September and extend over four months.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, at a back-to-school press conference said teachers and principals must encourage parents to have their children take the test.
“It (the test) can’t all be done before September morning, but it must be done certainly, during the first part of the term, where we look not only at the physical health of the children, which is so important for their education, but also look at their emotional stability and their social arrangements, which will help to ensure that they make the best of their educational opportunities,” the Minister stated.
Rev. Thwaites added that the Ministry is seeking to engage the services, both voluntary and professional, of counselling psychologists and social workers. “We will be stressing to our guidance counsellors the need to develop a profile of each of the children under their care, especially those entering an educational institution,” he stated.
Mr. Radcliffe told JIS News that the medial assessment will not replace the medical tests that are usually required by schools.
By Toni-Ann Russell,