JIS News

If all goes according to plan, the schools’ shift system could be phased out within three years, as the Ministry of Education (MOE), through the National Education Trust (NET), is determining the number of schools needed to make it possible.
“One of the things we are doing now, working with the National Education Trust, is to accurately determine how many schools we need, I think the projection was about 100 schools, and to see how we can gradually remove these schools from the shift system”, Chief Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, Grace McLean told a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank.
The Chief Education Officer is reemphasizing that there is no space shortage at the primary level, as the birth rate has been declining and the Ministry is able to cater to all the students.
“The challenge we have is persons preferring some schools as against the other schools. So, you will find that a school that is seemingly doing well at the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and Grade 4 Literacy and Numeracy Test, that’s the school that parents will want their children to go. But, at the same time, we are working with the schools to ensure that each space is a quality space”, Mrs. McLean informed.
“We were also able to reduce the number of students placed in our All-Age and Junior High schools, because as we know we are gradually phasing [them out] so all our students can have five years of secondary education, and we were also able to place all our students at the Grade 9 level. We are in partnership with some of our independent schools, and so we continue to place some of our students within the independent schools, as well,” Mrs. McLean stated.
In the meantime, Acting Director, Project Management Technical Services at the MOE, Errol Golding, explained that the schools’ infrastructural readiness is at about 95 per cent, considering that repairs are ongoing.
“Repairs to the infrastructure are an ongoing activity in the Ministry. It is done throughout the year, as situations occur, although we do have some schools with major repairs which we normally have to wait until the summer holidays for us to have those done,” Mr. Golding explained.
He said that the Ministry is completing repairs to about 30 schools damaged by Tropical Storm Gustav in 2008, under a programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) is also doing repairs to another 28 schools that were similarly affected by the hurricane. The Ministry itself has completed repairs to 12 of those schools, and we have a list of maybe another 32 that we have identified and are now in the process of doing some pre-contract work to have those addressed,” Mr. Golding informed.

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