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JIS News

Education stakeholders in Clarendon met last week to discuss the National Task Force on Education report, which came out of the roundtable discussions held across the island last year.
In her address at the function held at the Hotel Versalles in May Pen, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson said that the discussion session was among several being held islandwide, to examine the education system in terms of its strengths and weaknesses, and to work out the methods by which inadequacies could be improved.
“What I want to encourage us to do is to .critically appraise what is presented, recognizing that we really have no choice at this point in time but to ensure that our system is comparable to the very best in the world. It’s not just a notion, it is a requirement; it is an imperative, because as the world gets to be a smaller place geographically.we have to make sure that our children are capable of surpassing the performance of others,” she stated.
Minister Henry Wilson told JIS News, that the key issue coming out of the Task Force report was that Jamaican children were not up to par, educationally with their peers in other countries.
“Our children are underachieving at almost all levels. You have in the system, centres of excellence, but in the main, (our) children are not comparable with their peers elsewhere,” she pointed out.
She noted that a combination of factors had led to this situation including the inadequate dissemination of programmes, limited preparation of students and teachers for the education process, poor physical accommodation, inability of teachers to provide different methods of teaching consistent with different ways of learning, poor administrative planning, and insufficient educational materials.
The Education Minister noted that some of these issues were being addressed, with the priority being given to early childhood education, in an effort to give those now entering the school system a proper foundation.
Elaine Foster Allen, a member of the National Task Force on Education, highlighted that the team, in its report, had focused on the four main areas: governance and management; curriculum teaching and learning support; stakeholder participation; and finance.
She said that several recommendations had been made for each area of focus to correct the kinks in the education system, and some of the suggestions include the establishment of regional authorities, the licensing and certification of all teachers, increasing the years of schooling, training of 5,000 teachers’ aides, embarking on a programme to rehabilitate and upgrade schools to international standards, eliminating the shift system and setting up a transformation team.