JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will be engaging 230 primary schools in September as it prepares for full roll-out of the Primary Specialist Programme in 2022.
  • Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday (June 5), Chair of the Primary Specialist Teacher Model Oversight Committee, Dr. Tamika Benjamin, said that the programme will be implemented in three phases beginning with the preliminary phase this year.
  • The initial 230 schools will be prepared for transition to the use of the model through sensitisation sessions, administration of the redeployment toolkits and the training of principals and teachers.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will be engaging 230 primary schools in September as it prepares for full roll-out of the Primary Specialist Programme in 2022.

Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday (June 5), Chair of the Primary Specialist Teacher Model Oversight Committee, Dr. Tamika Benjamin, said that the programme will be implemented in three phases beginning with the preliminary phase this year.

The initial 230 schools will be prepared for transition to the use of the model through sensitisation sessions, administration of the redeployment toolkits and the training of principals and teachers.

Following the year of preparation, the model will be implemented in terms of curriculum delivery in 2020.

An additional 230 schools will begin their transition at that time, and in 2021, the final 230 schools will start their preliminary year for full roll-out across the system the following year.

The Primary Specialist Programme is aimed at improving curriculum delivery at the primary level of the education system.

Dr. Benjamin told JIS News that the new initiative will move away from the current model of having “generalist” teachers in the classroom to having more specialist educators.

She explained that in the generalist approach, a teacher is responsible for imparting all the subjects that are included in the curriculum. However, the specialist teacher will deliver fewer subjects and will, therefore, have to be trained in designated subject areas.

Dr. Benjamin, who is the National Mathematics Coordinator, said that the process of exploring the specialist model began in 2014, after a delegation from the Ministry visited Singapore and observed the approach being used.

She noted that initially, the Ministry considered the model as part of its strategy to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics and language/literacy, however, after consultations with principals and teachers, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) and teacher-training institutions, the specialist approach was broadened to include the teaching and learning of science and social studies. In 2016, the model was approved and in September 2017, it was piloted at a cost of $50 million in 39 public and private primary schools across the island. There was full roll-out in these schools in 2018.

Dr. Benjamin told JIS News that support for the pilot was provided by the Specialist Teacher Model Oversight Committee, which is made up of internal and external stakeholders.

Monitoring and assessment of the pilot was guided by a plan developed by the Programme Monitoring and Evaluation Unit.

Dr. Benjamin said implementation of the specialist model is being informed by data gathered from the pilot.