JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies is touting several initiatives in his South St. Andrew constituency.
  • Dr. Davies said these include a remedial reading programme for children; Adult Continuing Education (ACE); and the BASICS initiative.
  • Dr. Davies pointed out that the first cohort of students performed exceptionally well in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), and subsequently CAPE.

Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies is touting several initiatives in his South St. Andrew constituency, which he says has raised the educational outcomes of children and adults over the past 20 years.

Making his contribution to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 14, Dr. Davies said these include a remedial reading programme for children; Adult Continuing Education (ACE); and the BASICS initiative.

“The enormity of the problem we faced was brought home to me when I was presented with a report from the Ministry of Education, which indicated that two-thirds of the students at the primary level in the constituency were ‘at risk’.  That meant that these students were neither fully nor functionally illiterate,” he said.

He said with the assistance of then President of the Jamaica Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, Paulette Latibeaudiere, and Executive Director Joan Ernandez, a plan was devised to address the problem.

He said that the first concrete sign that the formula was working, came in the results of the Grade Four Examinations, followed by significant improvements in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) results two years later.

“The usual number of GSAT passes to traditional schools each year used to be about 25. The first year following the introduction of the programme there were over 100 such passes obtained by the students from primary schools in the constituency,” he said.

Dr. Davies pointed out that the first cohort of students performed exceptionally well in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), and subsequently CAPE. Forty of this original cohort of 100 entered tertiary institutions in September 2010.

The Minister informed that following the successes of the remedial reading programme, the parents of some of the children, who had benefitted, approached him about extending the initiative to adults as well.

This led to the development of the ACE, which provides a second chance for hundreds of adults. “The lives of many have changed once they had been able to acquire their subjects.” There are no fees charged for ACE classes and teachers are paid a small stipend, from the Constituency Development Fund.

ACE, which began in 2004, utilises the facilities at Charlie Smith High School and most recently, Jones Town Primary School, after regular classes are completed each day.

He informed that 388 students are registered in ACE programmes. “In the ACE programme, the ratio of female to male at Charlie Smith is 210 females and 77 males.  At Jones Town Primary, JFLL facility, it is 64 females and 36 males,” he said.

Turning to the BASICS Initiative, in the constituency, he said the programme partly financed by the CHASE Fund, links the 28 Early Childhood Institutions serving students in the communities of South St Andrew.

“The objective is to spread best practices amongst all institutions, simultaneously bringing about improvements in physical facilities as well as seeking to raise the capabilities of staff, as well as the nutrition of students,” he said.