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MONTEGO BAY — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has said that transformation of the education system is well underway, as the Government is convinced that a highly skilled, productive and committed citizenry is an imperative to national success.

“The Government of Jamaica has decided that the quality of education must not be compromised, despite national economic challenges. So, while we have previously seen a trade-off between widening access and less focus on quality, the strategy of the Ministry of Education is to simultaneously pursue access and quality, at the same time,” the Minister stated.

He was delivering the main address at the official opening of the International Conference on Education for CARICOM countries, at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, Tuesday (May 24).

The conference, staged by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Foreign Ministry of Finland, is being held May 24 to 25 under the theme, “Partners for Development: Sharing Good Practices in Education”.

The Education Minister observed that Jamaica’s educational transformation is well underway, in an effort to create a culture of excellence and accountability throughout the system, from early childhood to the tertiary level and integrating the home and parents.

He noted that a national parenting policy was tabled in Parliament two months ago, and his Ministry is awaiting legislation to establish the National Parenting Support Commission to execute the policy in parenting.

“We believe that the Government has to strike up a strong partnership with parents, so that parents can support the schools and teachers in attaining the outcomes we all want,” the minister said.

He stated that there has to be a system of parallel reinforcement, that what is taught in the schools is reinforced in the homes.

“Currently, it would appear that, in many cases, there is dissonance between the values and reinforcement in the homes and the values and reinforcement in our schools,” he pointed out.

Alluding to the Government’s goal of universal literacy, Mr.Holness said that all students, regardless of their stage of development, will be included in the process.

“Wherever they are, we are going to programme our education system to meet them and take them to where they can fulfill their God-given talents, whatever that talent is, and that’s the commitment we make with the education system in Jamaica,” he said.

Finnish Ambassador to CARICOM, His Excellency Mikko Pyhala, said that the conference afforded a ‘wonderful opportunity” for CARICOM educators to interact, and share solutions and culturally appropriate approaches to teaching and learning.

“There are so many persons, educators and the best qualified professionals from across the Caribbean participating in this conference. It a wonderful thing that this conference is taking place here, so please interact among yourselves, and with all of us, to ensure a successful conference,” Mr. Pyhala urged.

The two-day conference is designed to build on the outcomes of the UNESCO workshop on Education Support Strategy for OECS and Barbados, which was held in St. Lucia in December 2010. It also provides a forum for countries in the region to benefit from the experiences of Finland, and other highly successful education systems such as those of the Netherlands, Singapore and Canada.

                                                           

By GLENIS ROSE, JIS Reporter