Special Needs SEA students succeed against all odds

TSTT Corporate Communications

Press Release

Fifteen-year-old, Jordan Thorne, has always had a passion for taking pictures, and one day, he hopes to become a successful photographer.

Thorne was one of two students from special schools honoured for his academic achievement at this year’s Secondary Entrance Assessment, (SEA) in a collaboration by bmobile and the Ministry of Education, at the Ministry’s Port-of-Spain headquarters, following the SEA results.

A pupil of the Audrey Jeffers School for the Deaf, Thorne has never allowed his disability to hold him back, and despite facing many challenges, including the disruption of classes due to the covid-19 pandemic, he persevered. Communicating via sign language with his interpreter, the teenager revealed that he “felt very happy” to be recognised for his hard work and was looking forward to a career in photography when he finished school.

Gerard Cooper, TSTT’s General Manager Shared Services attended the event honouring the students. He noted that bmobile partnered with the Ministry to award the students with connectivity for their first five years of secondary school. “bmobile has been recognizing the nation’s top SEA performers for over five years, and we were very excited to include the top students of our Special Needs schools this year. In addition to the everyday challenges they live with, these students overcame unprecedented challenges this year to shine and excel. We believe it is critical to reward and help them along their journey towards continued success especially as they adjust to the ‘new normal’ of online learning. By supporting them with the connectivity tools they need to succeed, we hope to make their experience a little bit easier.”

The other special student rewarded was thirteen-year-old Mattia Street of Cascade School for the Deaf, who was happy to be awarded. When asked what advice she’d give to students writing the exam next year, Street revealed to her interpreter that, “I will tell them to learn their work and study very hard. Always try their best and they will get the results.”

At the event, Minister of Education, Dr., the Honourable, Nyan Gadsby- Dolly also recognised: the top three SEA performers, the top male student and five students who excelled from schools on academic watch. Minister Gadsby-Dolly said it was important to include students from special schools in this year’s celebrations as it was part of her Ministry’s mandate to “reflect the inclusive Vision 2030 society we strive to build.”

She added: “In 2020, the Ministry celebrates our top performers, along with those who face a myriad of challenges within their own peculiar context, but have been able, through personal effort, teacher commitment and parental support to excel. Several schools and students are therefore recognised at this time, including students from our special schools, given the high priority that we have placed on children with special needs in terms of the attainment of Vision 2030 – a mature society- and the Educational Policy Paper 2017-2022.”

Jewel Vaughans, 12, hailing from St. Gregory's - Fifth Company Anglican School - one of the schools identified by the Ministry as one on academic watch, spoke of the hurdles she had to cross to make it this far. “It was hard because you had to be protected and extra careful because of Covid but you still had to be hard working and study your work,” she said in an interview. “This gift from bmobile will help me to motivate myself to continue doing my best. I feel proud of myself and happy to be rewarded for my hard work.”

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