JIS News

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Audrey Sewell, has said that assessments carried out in the public education system, have shown an overall increase in literacy levels.
Citing statistics from the Grade 4 Literacy Test, which is the measurement at the primary level, she said that 42 per cent of students achieved mastery of the test at the first sitting in 1999, and by 2008, the success rate had risen to 72 per cent at the first sitting.
Mrs. Sewell, who was speaking at the Special Education Unit’s Excellence in Literacy awards ceremony held yesterday (June 25) at the Salvation Army School for the Blind in Kingston, said that she was also encouraged by improvements in literacy in special education, especially at the high school level.
She said, for example, that passes in reading tests at the Lister Mair – Gilby Senior School for the Deaf, moved from 32 per cent in 2005 to 46 per cent in 2008.
“Our reassurance also comes from the fact that there was an increase in the number of students, who were tested in 2008, and the findings, which pointed to several students reading at the Grade 5 through to Grade 7 levels,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Sewell credited the successes in the special education institutions to the “collaborative efforts of various stakeholders helping the Ministry to meet the real and urgent needs of the children within these institutions.”
“The Ministry, and indeed the wider society, recognise the challenges faced by our children with special needs, who must compete in the workplace that is more global and competitive,” Mrs. Sewell said.
She noted that these students also had to vie for resources to undertake entrepreneurial activities and were expected to live full and productive lives, without causing strain on the public purse and on their relatives.
The Permanent Secretary informed that the Ministry has been working to implement pragmatic and innovative processes in the public education system, including the establishment of a National Education Trust, which would provide resources for all types of institutions, including those catering to students with special needs.
She noted that in order to ensure quality and the sustainability of the Ministry’s current literacy drive, the Government was also looking at the establishment of a National Education Inspectorate, through which persons would inspect schools, work with schools to ensure improvement plans were put in place, and to ensure equity among schools.
“The Ministry will also make renewed efforts to make parents more inclusive… and actively involved in their children’s education,” Mrs. Sewell further informed, noting that this will be facilitated through the National Parenting Support Commission.

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