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JIS News

The Ministry of Education and Youth has allocated $15 million to the Inner City Programme for the new academic year, which begins in September. Deputy Chief Education Officer at the Ministry, Jasper Lawrence, told JIS News that the money would be spent to provide in service training for guidance counsellors, teachers and principals and to assist in providing any additional resources that these selected schools might need.
“Training for principals and teachers and guidance counsellors takes the form of workshops and clinical sessions, where they look at challenges that they have been experiencing and work out strategies to deal with these problems,” he explained.
Mr. Lawrence noted that training for guidance counsellors was even more essential as, “the challenges in the inner city are numerous. They have to deal with the problems of violence in the community; and they have to deal with violence and anti-social behaviour in the schools”.
“At these workshops, the counsellors meet with other colleagues so that they can share their experiences and this is, in a way, some form of therapy as they themselves are sometimes traumatized by inner city experiences,” he added. Mr. Lawrence pointed out that the programme was established in 2002 out of a need to improve the academic performance of students in inner city schools. “Before the programme, a survey was done and some of the problems identified were that attendance was below average in many of these schools, some of them did not have a vibrant Parent Teachers Association (PTA), and the performance of their students, as measured by GSAT and grade four literacy tests, was less than satisfactory,” he explained.
Mr. Lawrence also noted that the physical facilities in these schools were in a state of disrepair. “If we want these schools to perform like the other schools that are not facing such challenges, we need to put in extra resources. We realize that if we are going to achieve equity and quality, then you have to put in a little more resources where the needs are greater,” he said.
He pointed out that an evaluation was currently in progress to assess the improvement of the schools that were under the programme. “A number of them have reported some significant gains, both in terms of students’ performance and the enhancement of the physical support facilities within the schools. In time we might be able to graduate some of these schools and take on new schools,” Mr. Lawrence said. The programme currently benefits 23 inner city schools in Kingston and St. Andrew, Spanish Town and Montego Bay.