JIS News

Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, is calling on the private sector and civic organisations to join the Government in its national thrust to eliminate illiteracy by the time students reach Grade Six in primary school.
Speaking at today’s (July 22), post-Cabinet press briefing, at Jamaica House, Mr. Holness noted that literacy is a very emotional topic, with many Governments before having set targets for the general population.
He stressed that what the Ministry is seeking to control, is the literacy turnout from primary schools. “I want to be very clear with this target. My strategic concern is to ensure that our primary school does not contribute to the flow of illiterates into the society,” he said.
Mr. Holness argued that the target for 100 per cent literacy at primary school within the next six years is not impossible. “The science of teaching even the most challenged students to learn, is not a mystery. We know how to do it. The failure to do it is a failure of institutional management and leadership, rather than a failure in instructional leadership,” he asserted.
Hence the implementation of strategies aimed at improving standards and accountability, Mr. Holness pointed out. The Minister said that while there is a view that the Ministry is being hard on teachers and principals, it could not be “crippled by finger-pointing.”
“The truth is, we acknowledge that parents are responsible, but we don’t have the legal framework just yet to hold parents accountable for literacy, but there is a legal framework to hold principals, school leadership and teachers accountable for literacy. So, we have to execute that, we have to draw the line at some point,” he stressed.
Mr. Holness said he was not comfortable with an education system that turns out 20 per cent of its cohort illiterate at Grade Six. “We must do everything possible to correct this. The Ministry has to support the principals in executing their responsibilities for literacy, and the Ministry is doing that,” he said.

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