The Ministry of Education has, over the past two years, strengthened its relationship with teacher training institutions in an effort to improve the quality of Mathematics teachers entering the education system.
National Numeracy Coordinator, Dr. Tamika Benjamin, said as part of the implementation of the Mathematics Policy, under the National Mathematics Programme, a subcommittee was formed to focus on issues relating to teacher education.
She said all the institutions have a representative on the subcommittee, who work together to bring the institutions up to the established standards.
Dr. Benjamin was responding to questions at a media briefing at the Ministry’s head office on Wednesday, September 23, to launch a pilot project to provide Mathematics training to parents of grade 1 and 2 students in May Pen, Clarendon and surrounding communities.
She informed that this year, for the second time, the Ministry of Education administered a diagnostic test to students entering the teacher training colleges to pursue degrees in early childhood, primary or secondary Mathematics education.
The training colleges are provided with individual reports on each student in order to analyse the results.
“So, they actually had a lot more information about their students; they could actually see the issues (the students) had in terms of gaps in content or if they had misconceptions,” she said.
The Education Ministry further supported the institutions in the development of action plans for these students, through the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC).
Dr. Benjamin noted that the credit hour allocation for Mathematics instruction in the colleges has also improved.
“That was one of the issues we identified when we were developing the policy. We compared how many Math courses they were doing, particularly in the primary and the early childhood programmes and they were significantly below what would be called international standards. I understand that these programmes are now fully to the standard of the policy,” she said.
Mathematics lecturers in both private and public teacher training institutions were also provided with more than 60 hours of capacity-building training by both local and international personnel over the course of the past year.
“We have tried to tackle the issue at all levels; from programme development to programme delivery and we have continued to provide support and we continue to monitor the processes in that regard,” Dr. Benjamin said.