April 10, 2020

Meeting Special Needs in Suriname

Suriname IUP (1)A training program funded by Alcoa Foundation is helping teachers in Suriname provide potentially life-changing vocational and environmental education to students with special needs.

Prior to the program, which is a collaboration between IUP Research Institute and Vanguard Community College, teachers in Suriname received no formal training on working with special needs students.

The program involves 11 weeks of training on age-appropriate methods for teaching life and job skills that are needed in Suriname. It also provides teachers with skills and resources to begin environmentally focused initiatives in their schools, including constructing a sustainable garden to grow vegetables for consumption or sale.

“I always wanted to teach the children outside of the classroom, especially in gardening, because a lot of them have difficulty learning,” said Samantha Bouterse, a teacher at the Samuel School for Special Education. “We had the space, but not the garden and the tools to do so. I also struggled with the knowledge about how to plant, compost and teach children to grow flowers and vegetables. The students love it and ask me to come to the garden every day.”

Added Tiffany Moesnadi, who teaches at the Montresor School for Special Education, “A lot of the kids in my school are children of farmers. It’s good that we now can teach them everything about planting, gardening and composting. They have seen a lot at home on their parents’ farms, but now we are able to give them the background information in a way they can understand. We also can show it to them in the garden.”

Each participating teacher must complete a final project that covers one of four subjects—social skills; children’s rights and safety; diversity and inclusion; or environmental and vocational issues. The project must result in a new policy being implemented in the teacher’s school.