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Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has said that every teacher, regardless of their specialist area, must become part of the solution to the deficit in numeracy and literacy in education.

"Every teacher has to become a special education teacher… I don't want to hear that the Spanish teacher or the geography teacher, or the woodwork or the agriculture teacher don’t have any part in literacy or numeracy. It can’t work! If literacy and numeracy are in deficit, as it seriously is in Jamaica, every single teacher must see the advancement of literacy and numeracy as part of your concern," he stated.

Rev. Thwaites was addressing the closing session of the 48th annual conference of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) on August 22 at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Montego Bay.

He implored Grade Seven teachers and principals to take the time to bring students up to par, arguing that "if the literacy and numeracy levels of the children coming to you … are not up to standard, what is the point of committing you in pedagogy in other subjects, when their capacity for understanding is nil?"

The Minister expressed approval of the pledge by new JTA President, Clayton Hall, to give priority to special education, and gave a commitment to find ways, despite limited resources, to "roll out opportunities for special education in as many schools as possible in the new school year".

The JTA Conference was held from August 20 to 22 under the theme: 'Celebrating the past: Building on the legacy'.

The three-day conference, which was attended by hundreds of teachers from across the island, discussed a number of issues critical to the sector, and saw the installation of the new JTA President for the 2012/13 period.