Education Ministry to Embark on National Literacy Campaign


Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Ministry is putting the necessary resources in place, to embark on a national literacy campaign, in order to emphasise the importance of education among Jamaicans.
“We have been struggling to establish a national literacy campaign. It takes some amount of resources.to do the social marketing, to make the country understand the importance of literacy,” he said.
The Minister was addressing members of the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF), at a Chief Executive Officers (CEO) breakfast, held at the Terra Nova Hotel, in Kingston, today (September 8).
Today is being celebrated as International Literacy Day, under the national theme: ‘Literacy for Life, Reading for Reasoning’.
Mr. Holness argued that with an adult literacy rate of 89 per cent and a primary literacy standing of 67 per cent, much needs to be done to improve the figure.
He emphasised that the restructuring and effective management of the education system is critical in the fight against illiteracy, pointing out that there is a business aspect to the management of education that must be addressed, in order to effectively reshape and reform the sector.
“There are quality control issues. There are system failures in education that need to be addressed. That’s not a resource issue, that’s an institutional management issue,” he noted.
“For business people, if your production plant is turning out a few products that meet the standard and the rest of them don’t, then that’s a quality control issue. That’s a systems failure you need to address and it’s the same in education,” he remarked.
Mr. Holness therefore reiterated the need for the establishment of the National Teaching Council (NTC) and the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL), to develop a system of accountability and effective management in educational institutions, in order to improve the service they provide.
“It is by developing these institutional strengths that we get more out of the limited resources that we have and that is the strategy that I’m pursuing,” he said.
He explained that under the NTC, there will be a process of licensing teachers and setting standards for teachers. The programme will also ensure that teachers who do not meet the set standards, will not be given a license to teach.
“There are not many businesses in Jamaica that are larger than the operation of schools. There are not many businesses in Jamaica that have larger budgets to manage than schools and which serve a larger population or have more customers,” he pointed out.
Mr. Holness argued that the management of schools was quite complex and cannot be left up to chance or to guess work, but must be strategic and organised.
“The persons who lead schools have to be of high moral standing, because education is about leading by example. We must have persons who understand good industrial relations practices, because in many cases they are dealing with staff in excess of 100 persons and they are dealing with a diverse staff,” he said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared September 8 as International Literacy Day on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

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