The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will continue to implement strategies to improve the performance of students in mathematics at the primary and secondary levels.
This was stated by National Mathematics Coordinator, Dr. Tamika Benjamin, at a mathematics forum hosted by the Ministry recently, at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, St. Andrew.
More than 40 educators, consisting of mathematics specialists, coaches, senior teachers and principals representing the six educational regions, participated in the event.
Dr. Benjamin said the purpose of the forum was to engage key stakeholders in reviewing the elements of the National Mathematics Programme (NMP), which was revamped in 2012, and also to determine what additional policy decisions or strategies can be applied at all levels of the education system.
She informed that focus is being placed on six areas as part of the process to reform maths education.
These are the teaching and learning experiences within the classroom; equity, which is ensuring that all students have access to high-quality maths teaching and learning; a standardised curriculum; adequate tools and technology; assessment, which is making sure students receive feedback; and professionalism, whereby teachers take responsibility for their own development.
Dr. Benjamin noted that the NMP was designed with three main objectives, which are to establish standards and guidelines; make sure there is concerted and consistent effort to improve teacher and teaching quality; and also to improve the attitudes of every Jamaican to the teaching and learning of the subject, through a public education campaign.
She shared that coming out of the National Mathematics Policy Guidelines, which were drafted in 2013, all student-teachers entering college must sit a diagnostic test.
Other provisions are for the adjustment of courses to meet the minimum credit requirement, adoption of qualification guidelines for the engagement of teachers, and raising the matriculation standards for entry into mathematics teacher education.
In an effort to improve the quality of teaching, Dr. Benjamin said more maths specialists and coaches have been deployed to schools islandwide. There is also the provision of job-embedded professional development and the training of principals and heads of departments to improve the leadership of mathematics in primary and secondary schools.
Between 2015 and 2016, the Ministry funded the award of more than 200 scholarships for student-teachers, with 168 specialising in mathematics education.
Dr. Benjamin said that, going forward, the NMP will be ramped up to include increasing the number of mathematics coaches; providing specialist teachers at the primary level, which will be piloted in 35 schools in September 17; and the implementation of a sustained public education campaign.