JIS News

Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, concerned about low passes in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate’s (CSEC) Mathematics and English Language, said that the Ministry has to take a “second look” at the examination.
He informed that in 2009, only 42 per cent of Jamaican students, who took English Language, passed the exam, while the pass rate for Mathematics was 37 per cent.
“We have a serious problem and I hear somebody say it’s the system and others say it’s the exam. But whatever the problem is, it is not good and that kind of outturn is not good,” Mr. Holness stated as he addressed the Joint Board of Teacher Education conference this morning (January 12) at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
“We have to look at the examination, because… if the CSEC is considered to be the basic entry level examination and so many of our students are failing, then we have to take a second look at the examination and we have to analyse strengths. We have to then say ‘is the exam adequately reflecting the competence of the student’?” Mr Holness argued.
“The Ministry has to move towards that,” he continued. “We have to have a new system designed to ensure that all our students leaving secondary school have first and foremost, the basic competence in knowledge, Mathematics, English and maybe one or two other core subjects,” he added.
He said that the Ministry will be placing emphasis on vocational skills, which will increase the demand for tutors and teachers, who are trained to deliver instruction in these areas. “So there is an opportunity, I think, for the training colleges to start investing in that area of training,” he pointed out.
Turning to the Ministry’s target of achieving 100 per cent literacy of students entering secondary school by 2015, Minister Holness said that this goal is important in enhancing the country’s productive capacity.
“Productivity is naturally correlated with basic literacy and by that I am merely speaking about the ability to read, write, comprehend, compute and communicate within the context of a modern society. By 2015, we have to say to the country that we have delivered 100 per cent of all students leaving the primary school system to the secondary school system literate in that basic context. That will be a massive contribution to the productivity of the society,” he stated.
The Education Minister stated that in achieving the target, the curriculum at teachers’ colleges should be focussed more on teaching the fundamental skills of reading along with numeracy and communication skills.
“We need more literacy specialists. We need our teachers, who are at the primary level, to have at least core modules dedicated towards the teaching of literacy and the Ministry is moving towards that,” he indicated.

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