Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, says schools must make it their mission to rank among the best institutions globally.
“We must get to that point in our evolution as a Jamaican people, in which we are known globally as students that are high-achieving, students that excel, not just some students but all our students,” the Minister said.
She was addressing the Montego Bay Community College’s Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony, held at the campus in St. James on Thursday (July 15).
“We must set our sights on being among the world’s best schools. It is not impossible; we have to wake up every day and do the work that will make such a rank possible,” Mrs. Williams said.
The Minister pointed out that the work to make the island’s education sector highly ranked globally includes having assessment of children’s learning ability in the early-childhood institutions, so early intervention can be done to take the necessary corrective steps if necessary.
She also highlighted that having the island’s schools highly ranked globally requires the need for specialist teachers in primary schools for subjects such as mathematics, English language, science and technology.
“That change to have specialist teachers in our primary schools will begin in this new school year. We know that will be a game changer for our education sector,” Mrs. Williams said.
The Minister emphasised that teachers and students must spend more time on tasks.
“It is not enough for students to go to school at 7:30 or 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 or 3:30 p.m., with time for recess, lunch and all the other activities, and expect them to be high-performing,” Mrs. Williams argued.
“That’s why we have rolled out our National Summer School Programme, National Homework Programme and National Extra Lessons. Yes, it’s about recovering smarter from the learning loss as a result of the (COVID-19) pandemic, but it is also about us understanding that education takes time, learning takes time. We need more hours at it to excel. You know that if you want to be good at anything, you have to put in the work,” she added.
The ceremony was held to highlight outstanding students from various faculties at the institutions in Montego Bay and Frome, Westmoreland campuses.
The Minister congratulated the awardees, noting that their performances were worth celebrating. She also extended special commendations to the school’s teaching and support staff, “who have kept the institution up and running despite the upheavals of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Mrs. Williams also encouraged students to build on what they have learned at the school.
“It is in your best interest to continue pursuing professional development. We live in a world in which we have to learn new things frequently and even set aside the familiar,” she said.
For her part, Regional Director of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Region Four, Dr. Michelle Pinnock, congratulated the awardees and thanked the lecturers of the institution for their achievements, especially in light of the pandemic.
“Students, especially the awardees, resilience is the name of the game and, certainly, the end crowns the work. Congratulations to [the] Montego Bay Community College,” Dr. Pinnock said.
Meanwhile, Principal of the institution, Dr. Maureen Nelson, in her remarks, thanked Dr. Pinnock for her continuous support of the institution.
She also lauded the staff of the institution for their support and dedication, and commended the students for their outstanding academic performances during the pandemic.