The Ministry of Education officially inaugurated the National Resource Center for Inclusive Education (NARCIE) on June 8, 2007. The NARCIE is located on the upper floor of the Special Education Unit on Freetown Road. According to Ms. Eleanor Enriquez, Coordinator for the Special Education Unit, the National Resource Center for Inclusive Education serves to promote and advocate for Inclusive Education and provides for greater collaboration among all agencies and institutions committed to the goal of Inclusive Education. This Special Education Unit also aims at providing educational services including screening, diagnostics assessments, teacher-training, parent and school support, and specific therapies for students with special needs.
Inclusive Education is defined as “a system in which all pupils with special education needs are enrolled in ordinary classes in their district schools, and are provided with support services and an education based on their strengths and needs. Inclusive Schools are based on the principle that all school children in a given community should learn together, so far as is practicable, regardless of their handicaps or difficulties”. (UNESCO, 2002)
During my visit, I was fortunate to engage in a conversation with Mrs. Dativa Martinez, Director of NARCIE’s Educational Support Services, who spoke about special education and the concept of inclusion so passionately. I could immediately sense that she selflessly went beyond the call of her duties. I was given the permission to interact with students from the Special Education Unit situated in the same compound as the Resource Center. Auspiciously, I was given the opportunity of sharing about two hours with not only a visually impaired child, but also a hearing impaired child and another with a learning disability.
While there I was joined by students from various high schools who volunteered their services as a means of acquiring hours needed as a community service requirement. The...