JIS News

As Government intensifies measures to address illiteracy, Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, has pointed to the need for a culture change, where the critical skills of reading and writing are encouraged in the home.
“I am embarrassed to say that in the 21st Century, Jamaica is talking about the problem with illiteracy. We should have conquered that long time ago”, the Minister said as he addressed the Primary Education Support Project’s (PESP) end of project symposium and exhibition yesterday (Dec. 11) at the Knutsford Court Hotel.
“It is not rocket science, it’s not an involved process that we cannot solve. We have the capacity to solve it, the issue is the culture; how seriously do parents take this issue,” Mr. Holness pointed out.
He said that “as a parent, I know what I am talking about because the level of interest that I place to make sure that my children can learn to read and write, people in lesser circumstances may not be able to do it because it is very demanding. So, we, as the Government, we have to support parents. Help them to develop this culture of expectation that their children must learn to read and write.”
Stating that the Government is addressing the issue, Mr. Holness informed that there are plans to streamline all the literacy programmes into “one all-embracing comprehensive strategy that will be system-wide.”
“Our target is 100 per cent literacy at the primary level,” the Minister declared.
On another matter, Mr. Holness said there is need to improve on the quality of leadership within the nation’s schools and to provide support for principals, who are the main agents of change in the education sector.
“The teacher is important and in fact, a good teacher will be able to institute changes within their classrooms, but a very good principal will be able to institute changes right across the school. The challenge we face is to ensure that we put in place a plan to support our principals now. Those who are weak to get them trained to a point where they can manage the change process and to put in place a succession plan that is not based solely upon the education qualifications of the principal, but instead, upon the capacity and demonstrated ability to lead, inspire, and manage change,” Mr. Holness outlined.
He said that the national educational leadership academy to be instituted will work in tandem with the Jamaica Teaching Council, to ensure that the quality of leadership and teaching within the education system is improved.
The PESP was implemented in 2001 as a means of improving performance, equity and access at the primary level. The project comprised three components: quality assurance, for improved educational performance and equity; institutional development, which addressed improved sector management and efficiency; and civil works, which comprised construction, expansion, and maintenance of schools.
With US$37 million spent under the PESP, Mr. Holness has said that “the project overall was a success and we achieved value for money.”