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Expensive| No more special needs scholarships to Vanguard, says Wheatley

Dr Wheatley

Underscoring cost as a major factor, Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley has said government will not be funding any more scholarships for local special needs students to attend the Vanguard School in the United States.

Vanguard is a boarding institution for students with learning disabilities.

Making the announcement during a recent sitting of the House of Assembly, Dr Wheatley said: “From the accounts of the parents, this has been an excellent experience for those young people. However, it is an expensive undertaking, costing the government $44,000 per student annually. We currently have six students in the programme, which amounts to $264,000 per year. Over a four-year term, this amounts to $1.56 million for six students.”

“Therefore, I am not adding any new students to the Vanguard programme. Rather, I will invest money in a local solution which will benefit a greater number of students,” the minister added.

Dr Wheatley said the Andrew Fahie administration will prioritize scholarship funds towards persons in the territory who want to study special education.

The Education Minister, however, noted that local students who are currently studying at Vanguard will be allowed to continue until their graduation.

He further said he intends to take a trip to the school to learn, ‘as much as possible’, how the territory might better serve its special needs students.

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39 Comments

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  1. The Reaper says:

    Why when you’ll get in you change things same thing goes on the other side if you start a project and got voter out,that party will not finish that project. I see that happen for many years. Sad ?

    Like 7
    Dislike 16
  2. Priority problem says:

    How do put a value on education and the changes you bring to a life that otherwise may have gone astray? I saw students who went to this school make it when they were not doing that well here because of the specialty support they got. Claude Cline’s contract for 98k for six months could pay for two children for a whole year. The cost for the premier’s unnecessary new car could pay for another two for a year with change left over. The cost for the security for the premier could pay for about another 8 or 9 students a year. The cost for the frivolous court case to keep Hon. Vanterpool out of the House would end up being able to help another 10 students a year.
    Our special needs children need help. How dare you put a value on their life and success while your cronies suck the breast of the country for their own benefit?

    Like 96
    Dislike 13
    • Teach says:

      Perhaps you can teach a class for the Doctor to understand investments and our favourite term – value for money. Spot on with your calculations and assessment – we lack consistent priorities and that’s how we waste money in this beautiful land.

      Like 29
      Dislike 2
    • OZYMANDIAS says:

      Lets pray for better genetics and less special needs kids. Invest in that please.

      Like 5
      Dislike 24
      • R M Green says:

        In the meantime pray this happen in your family.

        • OZYMANDIAS says:

          Pray to whom? Naw never prayed have 2 healthy as ox adults 1 grandchild very healthy so far. Eat right take care of your body. You have to vet the genetics of your companion blood line. Then you breed. You all scared to ask the hard questions. ” Is there any retardation in your family?” If the answer is yes…yikes then I got to go good luck though on future engagements.

    • vip heckler says:

      I share the same sentiments

      Like 2
      Dislike 3
    • Albion says:

      You can’t put a price on it, but you can put a budget on it. The education department is not a bottomless pit of money. They have lots of students whose education depends upon that money – special needs kids and regular kids. That sometimes means you have to take tough decisions about where money gets spent.

      Like 23
    • Common Sense says:

      Over a million dollars for 6 children. Not worth my tax dollars. Why not use the money to train and build a programme locally so everyone will benefit. I SUPPORT THE MINISTER ON THIS.

      Like 15
    • Caribbean Girl says:

      Agreed. Invest the money to have a College Special Education Program. Train people here in this field and takecare of your own, right here.
      This a good project for Malone in Health Services added to Mentally Ill people wondering around the islans.

    • Caribbean Girl says:

      Agreed. Invest the money to have a College Special Education Program. Train people here in this field and takecare of your own, right here.
      This a good project for Malone in Health Services added to Mentally Ill people wondering around the islans.

  3. Thanks says:

    Nice to hear a solution is being looked into that will serve all of our special needs students as opposed to a hand picked few.

    How did the previous Government determine who should be sent off? I’m sure this was among their supporters and in the meantime those other students here got left behind.

    It’s about time someone addressed this. All should benefit and not just a select few.

    Let’s now find the solution that will benefit all.

    Like 31
    Dislike 3
  4. Planning says:

    This is one area I want to believe scholarship funding was directed. So the expertise was not developed or is not available?

  5. Also says:

    No more scholarships for non VI children to go to college.

    Like 4
    Dislike 7
  6. Albion says:

    I have criticised him heavily before, but I respect the decision that Natalio has reached on this. It is a very difficult balancing exercise, and nobody is saying that special needs kids should be left behind or ignored.

    But $1.56 million is a lot of money, and you can do a lot of good things for a very large number of students with that kind of money.

    The easy thing to do is just do nothing, and let things stay the same. It takes courage to make tough decisions that call for change. Let’s hope he’s right about being able to generate a more cost effective local solution.

    Like 15
    Dislike 5
  7. Point says:

    $1.56 million spent training 6 teachers over 4 years vs $1.56 million putting 6 kids through school for years.

    It is easy to see that training a stronger pool of teachers and investing in building local resources could improve the lot of ALL students who need special assistance.

    But, unless we have a radical re-alignment of priorities and a new bucketload of free cash, there will always be cases outside the range whatever capacity we develop – those would need to be considered on a case by case basis. Even so training more teachers – who will be provided with the necessary resources would be a better investment for the country overall

    Like 23
    • @Point says:

      You can train teachers but you cannot train attitudes. Dealing with special needs kids is more than having a qualification.

      Like 25
      Dislike 2
    • Teacher says:

      I think you all seem to FORGET the fact that Government CANNOT even afford to PAY TRAINED TEACHERS. So training teachers will not rectify the issue, but could potentially pose another.

      Like 6
      Dislike 5
  8. Wow says:

    Sadly I think Hon. Wheatley has missed the boat on this. Dealing with differently-abled young people isn’t just about ‘putting something in place’, it’s about having a holistic approach and sadly, this will not happen in the BVI overnight. There’s also this misconception that once we get locals to study special needs and get a degree, they can deal with the special needs kids, this is nonsense.

    Like 13
    Dislike 14
  9. Ausar says:

    Honourable Wheatley, how about having the Vanguard School setting up a program here in the BVI?

    Why have you not thought about that before?

    OORRR, how about having our students learn and study from officials at that institute and bring the school’s protocols back home?

    I am in agreement that cost-cutting measures are always a great mechanism that adds to annual savings. But we should never SACRIFICE the well-being of students with special needs!

    Government must always go the long distance in helping those with the most needs!

    Like 10
    Dislike 2
  10. Reason says:

    I agree with you “wow” and the past administration did their research at the time and found that the children need immediate help. Also, they have considered in moving in the direction. It takes time.

  11. Shorty says:

    You can train and send as many people to school for special needs education, but if you have absolutely NO resources to assist these teachers, children and families they it’s all a waste of money period… BVI government spends on what they deem necessary to make a profit special needs education is a costly venture for life which has no price cap for parents. If the BVI wants to make a change then utilise our British status and ask the UK for assistance in proper facilities, resources to help with special education. BVI government can spend millions on consultancies but special education is too costly?

    Like 14
    Dislike 2
  12. hit the nail on the head says:

    It is a move that many do not like to hear, but the BVI Government has to balance the multiple priorities to help the citizenry and the residents against the back drop of limited funds.

    In other words, do as much as we can or stretch the funds to cover the critical priorities.

    We have to give the local solution a try.

    I must say that the current facilitators and mentors are very accommodating and innovative as far as they can.

  13. vip heckler says:

    Discrimination at its best

    Like 2
    Dislike 8
  14. one eye man in a blind eye country says:

    It is sad when some of these comments are made with emotions and not with proper rationale. 1. Attitudes need changing.2. Special needs children are part and parcel of the human pool. 3. Changes that benefit more students is productive. 4. Empowerment of our teachers in that area is excellent. The million dollars question: 1. How committed would these trained teachers be.2. Where is the buiklding to housed the students 3. Where have is the pool coming from to fund the materials, etc, These are thing to put in place for such a project. W@hen would that come on stream in a next election

  15. Anonymous says:

    What about the teachers that were trained in special education and not teaching in that area education?

    Like 11
  16. Anonymous says:

    What about the teachers that were send on scholarships for special education and they aren’t teaching in that area?

  17. another point says:

    of course training teachers won’t help if the teachers cannot be properly paid and do not have proper facilities and equipment with which to work … But a long-term plan where government commits to training and adequately paying teachers – coupled with the community and private sector raising money to build and equip a school – might do the trick

  18. BVI says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the Minister. There is no bottomless pit of money. Government can try its best to assist by providing funding but parents must also be willing to do their part including financially.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  19. According to the article... says:

    The minister said he is going to invest that money locally. He didn’t breakdown how as yet but he did say that he is going to visit the school to learn more from them. Let’s wait and see and give it a chance. I think it’s a good decision to invest that money in teachers, a local institution/other resources to benefit the territory instead of funneling it outside the territory which only may benefit a few. Once planned properly, it may reap good benefits.

  20. one man in a blind eye county says:

    The majority of scholarships are given to BVIslanders. So who take the money from the “bottomless pit” and never return? That is why the county has to keep importing teachers because those same scholarship holders indegious folks stay in the US, Canada and England. Money Matters not county. So stop the blame game. Expats are the ones who carry the weight of ESHS asked the Administrators if they want to be truthful. Every week when teachers are absent see where the teachers is from.

  21. @ OMIABC says:

    The Expat teachers: (1) Do not do any thing extra for the students. The Locals have to fill in and carry the weight. (2) Laugh at our kids when they are weak in any area instead of helping them. (3)The Local teachers have to train the Expat teachers. (4) Their quality of work is not up to par. (5) They already come with an attitude that the salary is their only interest, though it may be small it is better than not being employed. I am imploring on the BVI Government big up your own let them see that that they are capable of taking over their country and you will see the country move forward. National pride is missing and that will be our down fall. Our young people are being told that they are no good and lazy. If you hear something long enough you begin to believe it. Our youth’s minds are being re-programed so that others can benefit. The recipe to take over a country, start with the youths: Train the youths into thinking they are no good and keep them out of the job market and we are allowing it to happen. So one man in a blind country you are correct my country is blind when they cannot see what is going on here.

  22. Lil clueless says:

    That’s what you get when you put a clueless lilbouy to lead Education . Vip sucks

    • Maverick says:

      Do unto your fellowmen as you will like them do to you. We are equal in the sight of God, hence we need not denigrate differently abled people. I am nauseated by the distasteful comments made about select super gene Craver. The sick is amongst us for us to love and care for and for God’s glory and healing power to be revealed like the many healings Jesus performed. Ask God to change your stony hearts, before another Irma destroys us for being ridiculous. No one deserves being left behind! England is first class in equipping such person for a better life, let’s pursue assistance from England and stop being mean to others.

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