JIS News

Come April 19 some 240 residents of South St. Andrew will be enrolled in continuing education and literacy studies under the Adult Continuing Education programme (ACE).
The programme has three levels; ACE 1, which will seek to improve the literacy status of adults through the use of computer technology; ACE II will concentrate on adults who have not attained Grade 9 competence and are as a result unable to gain entry into skills training programmes; and ACE III will focus on persons who have achieved the Grade 9 level but have not obtained certification. The view is to have them certified and able to pursue tertiary level education.
Thirty students from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology (UTech) have volunteered to teach in the programme, which will be based at the Charlie Smith High School. Persons enrolled in the programme will be prepared for the General Certificate Examinations (GCE) and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) tests and will be tutored in Mathematics, English Language, Principles of Business, Information Technology and History. Career guidance will also be provided.
Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Finance and Planning and Member of Parliament for Southern St. Andrew, who was speaking at the launch of the programme on March 18 at the Avon Park Community Centre in Kingston, expressed a desire to see the South St. Andrew youth “taking charge of their destiny.” To this end, he said, education was key.
He urged the gathering to take full advantage of the opportunity being provided for them to acquire the necessary certification and skills to foster personal development, noting that there would be no excuses for failure.
In his remarks at the function, UWI Principal, Dr. Kenneth Hall, said the programme was a worthwhile one and pledged the university’s willingness to accept graduates of ACE. He noted that the university’s participation in the effort was indication of its commitment to enable social mobility in a “real way” and to ensure that every Jamaica could access further education.
Meanwhile, Dr. Geraldene Hodelin, speaking on behalf of UTech Principal Dr. Rae Davies, said that the initiative should be replicated in every Jamaican community until illiteracy was no longer a part of the country’s landscape.
The initiative has also received significant support from members of the business community.ACE was developed to complement a reading programme launched in 2000, which was aimed at improving the educational status of children attending primary schools in South St. Andrew. This reading programme was implemented against the background of data, which showed that two out of every three students in primary and all-age schools in the constituency were assessed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture to be “at risk,” meaning they were either illiterate or were reading below their grade levels.
Over the last two years, the overall at risk percentage in the community has been reduced from 67 percent to approximately 27 percent, which is better than the national average.

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