MONTEGO BAY — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness says the Government's focus on the development of literacy is to build a new society, in which there will be “productive workers, participating citizens, caring parents and people who are meaningfully employed and engaged."
He therefore called on teachers to prepare themselves for this most important challenge, which they must successfully accomplish. “As teachers you have this most important task of ensuring that all our children leave school literate,” the Minister said.
Mr. Holness was delivering the main address to hundreds of teachers at the annual East Central St. James Teachers Awards Ceremony, held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James, on May 8.
The Minister pointed out that many students are leaving the education system without that basic core competence to read, write, compute and communicate.
“We can’t fool around with illiteracy as a government. We have to take critical steps to correct the problem, so we have changed the policy of social promotion and the new policy is called competence-based promotion. What the policy seeks to do is to ensure that all students leaving primary school are literate in order to go on to secondary school, so we have made the Grade 4 Literacy Test a national test,” Mr. Holness said.
He further informed that under the new competence-based promotion system, the Ministry will be certifying students as literate, reaching a point as close to 100 per cent of the students as possible.
“The Ministry is therefore investing heavily in developing this capacity and the first thing that we need to do is to diagnose, and the test acts as an early diagnostic mechanism … ensuring that you are able to pick up the weak areas of the students and make strategies and place resources to address those weak areas. Once we follow that strategy, Jamaica will be moving very rapidly towards universal literacy,” the Minister said.
“The benefits of that is incalculable, as we will have a less violent society, we will have a more reasonable society, and people will be able to acquire information, because they have the capacity to process information,” Mr. Holness added.
He congratulated the educators singled out for awards, and called on all teachers to continue equipping and positioning themselves to successfully engage in “saving the soul of Jamaica."
Minister of Tourism and Member of Parliament for East Central St. James, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, also commended the teachers in the parish for their sterling contributions to the educational growth and development of students.
Teacher, Termius McNeill of the Happy Venture Basic School received special mention for 50 years of outstanding and meritorious service to education.
By GLENIS ROSE, JIS REGIONAL OFFICE, MONTEGO BAY