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Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, says mastery of a second language by Jamaicans, particularly Spanish, can potentially generate more global opportunities for the country.

Against this background, Mrs. Williams said the Ministry was ramping up efforts to deploy trained specialist Spanish teachers across Jamaica’s education system. This, she added, to make Spanish a second language in Jamaica.

Mrs. Williams made the remarks in a speech delivered by the Ministry’s Senior Education Officer for Foreign Languages, Martha Corbett-Baugh, at the closing ceremony for the pilot programme to support the teaching of Spanish in Jamaica and strengthening instructional delivery on Monday (August 16).

The Minister maintained that as a nation located at the core of the Americas, sharing seas and ties with Latin America and Francophone countries, it is important to ensure that language differences are not deterrents to communication for Jamaica.

Rather, the country is prepared and poised to liaise and negotiate with any foreign state, regardless of the language, the Minister added.

The four-week pilot programme, which ran from July 20 to August 16, was implemented under the ninth Bi-National Commission for Cooperation in education between Mexico and Jamaica.

According to Minister Williams, the pilot is a key component in the Government’s efforts to encourage more students to take foreign language studies seriously, to “better prepare them for the 21st century”.

“This programme is also helping to accelerate the Jamaican Government’s moves to have Spanish as Jamaica’s official foreign language, in fulfilment of Vision 2030 – that the educated Jamaican must speak at least one additional [language],” she underscored.

Mrs. Williams said the bilateral training programme was also taking place within the context of Jamaica implementing the National Standards Curriculum (NSC), which, among other things, targets the early preparation of students in Spanish to fulfil this mandate.

For his part, Mexico’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Juan Jose González Mijares, noted that Spanish is a growing language that stands to open many opportunities for Jamaicans, particularly in tourism.

“[Spanish] is a gateway to educational and job opportunities in the Latin American countries around Jamaica, including the USA where Spanish is already the second language,” he said

The Ambassador maintained that the pilot programme was an invaluable source of “our dialogue and understanding, based on the cultural richness of our countries”.

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