Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, says the government will revive its policy supporting the teaching of foreign languages in schools, to secure Jamaica’s place as a viable trading partner with non-English speaking countries.
Mr. Holness was addressing educators at the Foreign Language Workshop for Teachers at the Caenwood Centre, Kingston Friday (September 24).
He said that, as part of this new thrust, the Ministry was working to put in place guidelines to ensure that teachers of foreign languages in Jamaica are able to obtain proper certification at the international level.
“I have asked the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Education Officer about the DELE (Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language) and DELF (Diplomas in French Studies) certificates, and I am certain that in short order a positive response will be communicated to you,” he told the teachers.
Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness (left), in discourse with Education Officer (Modern Languages) in the Core Curriculum at the Ministry of Education, Martha Corbett Baugh, during the Foreign Language Workshop for teachers at the Caenwood Centre in Kingston on Friday (September 24).
Mr. Holness, however, told the teachers that there were implications as to how the cost of the exams would be subsidised, in terms of whether or not it would have an impact their remunerations. However, he promised that all the issues will be sorted out in due time.
In addition, the Education Minister said he was also aware of teachers who were not trained to teach foreign languages at the primary school level, but were placed in the position to teach Spanish and other foreign languages, despite their lack of training.
“I have also asked the PS and the CEO to review the programme, and to see how we can expand and support those teachers, so that they can find their true position and employment at the primary level in what they have been trained to do,” he remarked.
He said that the thrust to revive the teaching of foreign languages in Jamaica comes at an opportune time, and it was in the interest of the government to promote and support it.
“The future, based on where our economic interests lie, does not only reside in North America or Europe, where those partners are predominantly English, but we are now seeking to build stronger relationships with markets in Latin America, particularly with Venezuela and Brazil,” he said.
The Minister further noted that the Government was also looking to strengthen its ties with countries in the Far East, such as, China, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as countries closer to home, like Cuba and Haiti.
“Cuba is our closest neighbour and it is a significant market and, in many ways, we compete on the same economic field. The future therefore for Jamaica and Cuba, within less than 20 years from now, undoubtedly will have to be one of closer cooperation,” he stated.
He said this cooperation can be greatly facilitated if a higher percentage of Jamaicans are able to speak Spanish.
“Education therefore forms the basis on which economic cooperation can flourish,” he asserted.
Mr Holness told the teachers that they can expect that greater attention will be placed on their needs as educators of foreign language.
“I want to encourage all our schools, all our teachers’ colleges to give greater support and greater attention to the teaching of foreign languages,” he said.
Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Yuri Gala Lopez, said his government was committed to its cooperation with Jamaica in the field of education. He reminded the teachers that the Cuban government was able to grant a number of scholarships to Jamaican students.
“Notwithstanding our economic problems, I am sure that Cuba will continue to look into ways and means to continue providing these scholarships to Jamaicans, and (persons from) other developing countries of the region,” he noted.
In addition, he said the Cuban government would continue to ensure that every year a number of teachers are sent to Jamaica to share their language with Jamaican students.