MONTEGO BAY — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, says that with increased access to secondary education, educators are faced with increased social issues affecting their students.
Addressing the conference of the International Association for Counsellors, on Thursday June 16, at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, Rose Hall, St. James, Mr. Holness pointed out that Jamaica has not yet achieved universal secondary education.
He noted that, over the last five years, there has been an increase in secondary school enrolment, from 70 percent to 80 percent, with the hope of achieving 100 percent in short order. But, this has not been all positive for educators, according to the minister.
He said that as the country expands access to students, it is becoming clear to policy makers that, increasingly, the issues that consume the time of the teachers are not so much academic issues.
“Increasingly, teaching time, school time, the time of the principals and school administrators is being consumed by behavioural issues, emotional issues, psychological issues, mental issues and, of course, general social problems that affect the society,” he stated.
He noted that this could lead to the impairment, or prevention of academic attainment, unless the issues are speedily addressed.
Admitting that the existing resources are inadequate to meet the challenges, Mr. Holness said that an increasing number of students are being underserved, because of the mismatch between their needs and the capacity of the school to deal with them.
He said that policy makers have to understand that all the resources cannot be focused on academic attainment. Some resources have to be focused on ensuring that support services are present, to enhance the teaching/learning environment.
He noted that if this is not done speedily, the schools will become just elaborate holding areas for the students.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter