SPECIAL EDUCATION POLICY INITIATIVE “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” & NEWS MAGAZINE OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED

Thursday, April 12th 2018 was a significant and historic day for the Department of Education as the country was introduced to the first ever Special Education Newsmagazine called “Inclusion”.   The magazine was developed to inform the country of the trends, development and achievements in Special Education in the TCI.  The launch of this magazine was a special feature of the Policy Initiative “No Child Left Behind”.  At the launch, the Education Officer for Special Needs Mr. Jasmin Walkin gave an overview of the assessment of Special Education Programs conducted throughout the government schools in the Turks & Caicos Islands and how the information gained inspired him to collaborate with the Special Education Teachers to develop a National Strategy to begin to meet the needs of Students with Special Needs. 

Mr. Walkin explained to those in attendance; “This policy initiative is derived from TCI Special Education Policy document. However, it is a list of specific targets my team and I will seek to meet during a twelve-month period March 2018 - February 2019.  The targets outlined in “No Child Left Behind” Policy Initiative are directed towards a massive Special Education public relations campaign, establishing a system of reliable data collection, referrals and intervention, professional development and collaboration, capacity building, and finally; promoting ‘best practices’ in regard to Special Education models throughout our schools.”

Some of the specific targets of “No Child Left Behind” Policy Initiative are:

  1. Establishment of Special Education Assessment & Intervention Team (SEAIT) - National Steering Committee to supervise, develop, and support the work of School Based Assessment Teams, design intervention and monitor its implementation.
  2. Appoint Special Education Programme Coordinators to assist with the implementation of TCI Special Education Policy, programme management, evaluation, student assessment and staff development.  
  3. Establish a system for consistent Special Education Screening and Assessments that leads to intervention (SEAIT Objective)
  4. Establish a smooth system of assessment, screening, referrals, and intervention in collaboration with Ministry of Health and their external agencies - which provides the ministry with support for Special Needs assessments
  5. Establish Culture of Capacity Building among Special Education Teachers (SET)
  6. Implement a PR campaign encouraging parents to have their children assessed and to pressure parents who have not accepted the prognosis of their Special Needs child to allow intervention where it is possible.  
  7. As part of the PR Campaign: Collaborate with Special Education Teachers to establish quarterly Special Education Magazine, as well as establish partnership with media houses, conduct interviews about Special Education Policy initiatives and updates. 

Mr. Walkin was pleased to inform those in attendance that many of the targets outlined in the policy initiative had already been realized and introduced the country to the Special Education Program Coordinators:  Ms. Te-Ann Astwood for Zone 1, Mrs. Lashaunda Skippings for Zone 2, and Ms. Edith Gray for Secondary Schools and expressed his confidence in their work and driven spirit in bringing innovation to Special Education.  

Additionally, the Education Officer was grateful for the progress being made by the SEAIT National Steering Committee and was pleased to introduce three of its key members to the media: Ms. Tiffany Ivey (Chairperson), Ms. Denise Duncan (Secretary) and Dr. Anya Malcolm-Gibbs a Clinical Psychologist representing the Ministry of Health.  Other members of the SEAIT Committee also include Ms. Sriya Smalling, Mrs. Sherryl Patterson and Mrs. Levenia Bishop.

Mr. Walkin further stated: “The work of SEAIT National Steering Committee is volunteer work and the members should be commended for the sacrifices they are making to meet the needs of Special Education Students in the TCI.     

Also present at the Launch was the Minister of Education Hon. Karen Malcom.  In her remarks she stated; “I remember giving remarks at the First Special Education Teachers Conference in February of this year and sensed from then that it was just the beginning.  Then, the Special Education Assessment & Intervention Team National Steering Committee was established and was tasked with developing a system of screening, assessment and intervention for Special Needs students.  The new developments in Special Education in TCI did not stop there.  The Education Officer then informed us that the first ever Special Education News magazine was being developed in support of the targets outlined in the “No Child Left Behind Policy Initiative”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased and very excited to be here at the Launch of this Special Education Policy Initiative and to say congratulations to the department of education, the director, the education officer Mr. Jasmin Walkin, his Special Education leaders and teachers for the progress they have made and pledge my ministry’s support in regards to seeing these targets successfully implemented.  And in the words of the Education Officer, I am excited to be a part of the “New Era in Special Education”

With the successful and historic launch of the Special Education Magazine “Inclusion” now behind them, the Education Officer has defined the next chapter in the development of Special Education in the TCI as the “New Era in Special Education” and informed the country that this launch was just the beginning; citing the pop phrase “We got big things poppin”

 

STRENGTHENING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE DELIVERY, TCIG APPOINTS A SECOND PSYCHIATRIST, DR. MARLYN GODINES-CAPUZ

As of March 2018, Dr. Marlyn Godines, has been appointed Psychiatrist - Zone 1 for the Department of Mental Health & Substance Dependence, within the Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports & Human Services.

This appointment follows the United Nations induction of mental health as a sustainable goal and the need for increased access to mental health and psychiatric services throughout these islands. Dr. Godines, a native of the Philippines, possesses a wealth of experience in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of persons across the spectrum with mental health concerns such as depression and those suffering with cognitive disorders. Her ability to function in this role is preceded by her successes in the Philippines over the past ten (10) years.

Once achieving a doctorate of medicine, in 2007, she attained a post graduate internship with the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, following this she furthered her education/training by completing a 4-year Psychiatric Residency with the National Center for Mental Health in the Philippines. As one of her first priorities in this role Dr. Godines, is charged with delivering optimal mental health services across the islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos. Being the leader of the National Center for Mental Health - Camarin Extension, she has excellent and current knowledge of the practices and medications that are best used for treatment of individuals suffering with these illnesses.

Though possessing many medical accolades such as being a certified member of the Psychiatric Specialty Board in the Philippines and holding a Masters in Management in Hospital Administration, Dr. Godines asserts that human rights and the ethical management of mental health patients is her primary concern. Employing skills from her membership on the Committee for Human Rights, National Center for Mental Health as well as the Technical Working Group National Center for Mental Health Integrity Management Committee will be an asset in ensuring continued integrity for patients in these islands.

Prior to acceptance of this appointment Dr. Godines was employed by the Department of Mental Health & Substance Dependence as a locum during Dr. Diana Dizon’s absence. We wish to recognize and thank Dr. Diana Dizon, for being the sole psychiatrist for the territory prior to this appointment and for her dedication and significant advancements in this role.

The Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence can be reached on 338-3613 in Grand Turk, and 338-4737 in Providenciales or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TCIDMHSD

 

APPOINTMENT OF NEW SUPREME COURT JUDGE

On Monday 16th April, 2018 The Honorable Mr. Justice Shiraz Aziz was sworn in by His Excellency the Governor Dr. John Freeman CMG, as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

 

Justice Aziz was admitted to the Bar in 1997, graduating from the University of London before gaining a Masters of Laws in Environmental Law. He practiced law as a Barrister in the United Kingdom as a tenant at Garden Court Chambers, Lincolns Inn Fields, London focusing on criminal defence work. Justice Aziz specialized in criminal and quasi criminal law, in particular dealing with offences classed as serious and complex.

 

As a practitioner Justice Aziz appeared in the Supreme Court, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Court of Appeal and Crown Court and was involved in serious and complex cases in the Caribbean Region including Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and Barbados.

 

Justice Aziz is also involved in legal and advocacy training for various Law Society’s and Bar Councils. Between 2006 and 2014 as a practitioner Justice Aziz has provided legal and advocacy training in various countries. From 2011 to 2014 Legal 500 rated Justice Aziz as one of the leading lawyers in the UK in Crime and referred to him as “fearless in court” “a safe pair of hands” and as someone who “is good with clients, friendly and approachable”. Justice Aziz was appointed as High Court Judge to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) and assigned to Grenada. A number of his written judgments can be found at www.eccourts.org.

 

Justice Aziz has been Chairperson of the Mediation Committee and has also been appointed as a member to the Sentencing Advisory Committee of the ECSC. Justice Aziz has a keen interest in continuing judicial and legal education and is also known for his proactive style of case and jury management. He is very open to discussions and integration between bar and bench.

 

When not in Court Justice Aziz has a keen interest in golf, sailing and deep sea fishing.

 

The Judicial Administration warmly welcomes Justice Aziz and wishes him much success in his new appointment.