JIS News

Following the recent conclusion of the islandwide roundtable discussions on the transformation of Jamaica’s education system, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson is set to make a presentation on the findings, which will inform the Prime Minister’s Education Task Force.
The presentation will be made on Wednesday, April 21 between 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
Declaring that “education is everybody’s business”, the Ministry embarked on a strategic reform process in February 2004, which should see the transformation of education to be the key driver of growth and sustainable development in the country.
The process involved a series of eight islandwide roundtable discussions, at which the various stakeholders in the education system were invited to arrive at a consensus on a “shared vision” for education, and the way forward.
Among the recommendations put forward were that the Government should institute compulsory education, reduce the size of classes, zone schools, upgrade the early childhood education programme and increase budgetary allocations to education.
Additionally, the stakeholders proposed that teachers be held responsible for their students’ performance; the government should establish and equip school facilities to make them more functional, as well as review all existing policies and programmes relating to education.
The general approach to this intervention was facilitative, rather than the conventional consultations. This was done by engaging groups to reach consensus on key issues and by employing group decision-making techniques.
The roundtables further sought to gain agreement and understanding of the specific roles that each stakeholder group or institution must play in moving education forward.
Major stakeholders who participated in the roundtables were the Minister, Minister of State, Permanent Secretary, Ministry staff, the Opposition, the Jamaica Teachers Association, the Civil Service Association, teachers, private sector organisations, school Boards, the Ministry of Finance, HEART/NTA, religious groups, students, parents and community groups.
It was agreed at the talks that effective participation was required from parents, private organizations and the community, in order to effect transformation.
Minister Henry-Wilson said that one of the fundamental challenges faced, was to improve on the accomplishments within the sector, in order to move ahead.
She said the Ministry recognized that the world had changed phenomenally, “so the education system must focus on not just where we are, but also where we need to go”.
A review of the proposals will be made by the 14-member National Task Force on Education, appointed by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in February of this year, with a mandate to help transform the island’s educational system by using a 10-point terms of reference, which is expected to begin yielding results as early as the next school term in September.
Wednesday’s presentation is open to members of the public, who will be required to register prior to the event by calling 968-2081 or 908-1793.

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