JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is encouraging Mathematics teachers to “sharpen your skills”, as the Ministry continues work to improve the outcomes for this subject.
  • The Minister was speaking at the National Mathematics Teacher of the Year Awards Ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on March 10.
  • The Ministry is seeking to meet the revised goal of 85 per cent of students in the Grade Four cohort achieving numeracy mastery by 2018.

Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is encouraging Mathematics teachers to “sharpen your skills”, as the Ministry continues work to improve the outcomes for this subject.

Alluding to the results of a recent survey, the Minister noted that nearly 800 of over 1,700 high school Mathematics teachers are qualified in virtually all areas but that subject.

He also noted that “probably half of primary school teachers, teach the subject without an adequate theoretical and pedagogical base.”

Rev. Thwaites said, however, that despite these, “you have applied yourselves to your task and done extremely well.”

The Minister was speaking at the National Mathematics Teacher of the Year Awards Ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on March 10.

Rev. Thwaites cited the need to further improve the delivery of Mathematics instructions, even by qualified teachers, in order to improve students’ outcomes, in short order.

“This will demand an entire shift of culture and of mentality among many of us… and a completely different approach to the aptitudes of many of our students,” he contended.

The Minister stressed that Jamaica’s development goals “have absolutely no chance of achievement”, if teachers do not succeed in infusing students with a love of Mathematics and all related disciplines, “and engaging them in a ‘pilgrimage’ of effort and attainment towards employability and productive engagement.”

Rev. Thwaites said the Education Ministry recognises the need to attract and retain an increasing number of Mathematics teachers in schools.

This, he contended, by providing attractive benefits and incentives, such s increased opportunities for professional development and scholarships, through partnerships between the Ministry and private sector stakeholders, among other stakeholders and interests.

Rev. Thwaites noted that in order to address the shortfall in the number of qualified Mathematics teachers, the Government has had to source over $300 million to place subject coaches in many schools.

“This is a good and essential move. But it is a move of remediation and a double expenditure, because we are already paying teachers to teach that subject in the schools. What, effectively, we are doing is sending other teachers in there to say ‘can we help you to do better?’,” he said.

Rev. Thwaites assured, however, that “it is not an issue of crying shame on anybody or calling out anyone for their inadequacies”, but rather the Ministry’s undertaking to ensure that students receive the required instruction to attain competence in the subject.

The Ministry is seeking to meet the revised goal of 85 per cent of students in the Grade Four cohort achieving numeracy mastery by 2018.

It has also set a 2017 timeline when all Grade 11 high schools students are expected to be sitting Mathematics in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination or any other administered by another recognized governing body.

Yanique Hall-Harriott of Christiana Leased Primary and Infant School in Manchester was selected as the 2014/15 Mathematics Teacher of the Year, topping a field of 16 contenders.