JIS News

Government spending on Education is to increase from the current 10 per cent of the total budget, to 15 per cent over the next five years, in increments of one per cent a year.
This came, as both sides of the House of Representatives, in a landmark show of consensus on Tuesday (Oct. 14), approved an amended motion by Opposition Leader, Edward Seaga, seeking Government’s commitment to increase spending on education.
Responding to the revised motion, Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson expressed his concurrence with the incremental increase in the Education budget, as investment in education was one of the principal means by which economic and social goals could be realized.
He agreed that, while basic schools needed more support, such as improved and better equipped facilities, as well as more trained teachers, he did not agree that the Government should take them over. He urged instead, that community and civic groups, as well as enterprising individuals, who were already doing a good job, continue to improve their involvement in basic schools.
Mr. Patterson also agreed for the Government to provide a comprehensive textbook lending programme for primary and secondary school students, by increasing the required additional books annually, to attain the target in five years.
The allocation of incremental funds over the five-year period, it was agreed, would ensure that all secondary schools, including those in the poorest areas deliver quality education to all students at the secondary level; and improve and expand the School Feeding Programme to target all students in need.
There was also concord on working with schools, to provide a compulsory homework and literacy hour after classes, to ensure that homework is done under good, supervised conditions, and to eliminate the shift system in all schools within the shortest possible time.
In addition, teachers are to be upgraded to required degree levels, by enrolling incrementally over five years, teachers requiring additional qualifications, and ensuring that instructors in teacher training institutions have, at a minimum, a post graduate degree.
Other contributions to the Education debate came from Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett, Pearnel Charles, Karl Samuda, Audley Shaw, Dr. Omar Davies and Horace Dalley.

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