JIS News

Government will be seeking to retain the expertise and experience of retired teachers by engaging a number of them on fixed contracts.
The retention of retired teachers is one of the recommendations of the Education Task Force.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in presenting the report to Parliament yesterday (Dec. 14) said that every year, the system lost many good teachers due to retirement and “we must find a way to retain their expertise.we cannot afford to lose it at this time”. Among their tasks will be to tutor younger teachers especially in areas such as class control and classroom delivery.
Among other recommendations from the task force, is the development of a performance management culture, to hold players at all levels accountable for the education outcome. “A performance management-based system will be introduced and implemented to include rewards and sanctions for all staff in the Education, (Youth and Culture) Ministry, support institutions and public schools,” the Prime Minister said.
Also, teachers will be financially rewarded on the basis of improved student achievement. “This will ensure that our best teachers will be motivated to stay in the system and those who are weak will be more inclined to get help,” he said further, adding that he was confident that this performance-based system would be a catalyst for marked and sustained improvements in the performance of staff at the Ministry level and in the nation’s schools.
As it relates to the recommendations made for the management and organization of teaching, Mr. Patterson told the House that a new licensing and certification system would be put in place, to ensure that teachers were always equipped to operate in a global village.
In addition, a comprehensive distance education programme for pre and in-service training will be developed and implemented to assist teachers to improve their skills. Principals will benefit from prescribed training in leadership and management. “A critical component of the new governance and management approach will involve a re-examination of school staffing and teacher’s leave entitlements,” he informed, adding, “the report recommends a re-negotiation of the leave entitlement of teachers and principals, to increase student contact hours and number of teaching days that now stand at 190 per year”.
As further set out in the report, Mr. Patterson informed, new roles have been recommended for the Ministry of Education and the various support institutions. The Ministry will now function as a policy entity with responsibility for matters such as standard setting, policy development, monitoring and project development.
Further, regional education authorities will have accountability for primary and secondary school performance, monitoring the performance of schools and provide specialist support to these institutions. In addition, the National Education Quality Assurance Authority (NEQAA), will assume responsibility for national student assessment, reporting on results, quality assurance, the registration and accreditation of institutions and the licensing of teachers.
Another area that the task force examined was curriculum, teaching and learning support, where several issues were explored including the chronic underachievement of the education system; the phenomenon of anti-social and violent behaviour; curriculum development and implementation; student assessment; access to schools and; the capacity and state of physical plants.
The recommendations for these issues, Mr. Patterson told the House, were wide-ranging and included literacy and grade level remediation. “It calls for an assessment of students to determine the need for remediation, the training of remediation specialists who will be on contract to the regional authorities and the (implementation of a) national ‘Drop Everything and Read’ remediation programme,” he told the House.
The task force has recommended that students in need of assistance be taken out of the grade and provided with parallel remediation. In some instances, there will be mixed grade delivery to assist those in need while providing normal curriculum delivery for others.
Speaking to the increase in anti-social and violent behaviours, Mr. Patterson described the phenomenon as an “ugly one”, which had impacted negatively on the education system. To help solve this problem, a citizenship education programme will be implemented in schools to focus on values and attitudes, character education, patriotism and service learning. “We will build on existing programmes such as PALS, Values and Attitudes and Change from Within. In addition, the Jamaica Combined Cadet force will be vitalized under the aegis of the Jamaica Defence Force,” the Prime Minister stated.
In terms of improvements to school plants, he indicated that the government intended to embark on a programme to rehabilitate and upgrade schools to international standards in order to ensure that teachers and students could participate in a broader mix of teaching programmes.
This upgrading programme will address lighting, sanitary facilities, ventilation and water supplies. “We will not forget our physically challenged students who will also benefit from easier access to classrooms and school facilities,” he stated.
Prime Minister Patterson stressed that the governance and management of the country’s educational institutions must reflect the policy of delegated authority, which government had pursued under the public sector modernization programme.
He pointed out that this new governance structure was in keeping with the principles of new public management that placed authority with the learning institutions. “We are empowering schools to be more innovative, responsive and to create their own responses to emerging issues,” he remarked.
Commissioned by Prime Minister Patterson in February of this year, the Education Task Force was established primarily, to identify the means of improving the country’s education sector.

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