- Among the most noteworthy achievements was the expansion of several schools throughout the year.
- Portfolio Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites oversaw the removal of a number of schools from the shift system.
- The Ministry launched the national policy for the reintegration of school-age mothers into the formal school system.
The year 2013 was a productive one for the Ministry of Education, characterised by many notable achievements and the implementation of a number of projects and programmes.
Among the most noteworthy achievements was the expansion of several schools throughout the year. These include the Garvey Maceo High in Clarendon; Glengoffe High in St. Catherine and Holy Trinity High School in Kingston.
The Belair High in Manchester, privately run for many years, became government aided in September. Eight classrooms were added facilitating the accommodation of an additional 105 students at grade seven. There was also expansion of the sixth form.
Additionally, the Moreland Hill Primary and Infant School was open in Westmoreland, while the Cedar Grove High School in St. Catherine was opened in September on a phased basis, starting with 100 grade seven students.
REMOVAL FROM SHIFT SYSTEM
At the start of the 2013/2014 academic year, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites oversaw the removal of a number of schools from the shift system to streamline contact hours in schools across the island. These included the Glengoffe High School; Holy Trinity High School; Albion Primary and Junior High, St. James; Sandy Bay Primary and Junior High, St. James; and the Bethabra Primary and Junior High, Manchester.
Revision of the National Standard Curriculum for grades one to nine was conducted, along with the sensitisation of principals in 24 pilot schools. There was also the development of a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Policy to provide a national framework for the development and sustainability of TVET in the Jamaican education and training system.
The Ministry of Education also partnered with the HEART Trust/NTA to train 87 teachers at the secondary level during the summer to utilise Competency-Based Education and Training (CBET), which is the methodology that drives TVET instruction.
IMPROVEMENT IN PERFORMANCE
The year also saw improvement in the Grade Four Literacy Test results at 76 per cent mastery, just nine points below the target of 85 per cent mastery by 2015. There was also overall improvement in performance in about 25 subjects in the CXC/CSEC examinations -12 per cent for English Language and five per cent for Mathematics.
More than 100 literacy specialists/reading coaches were deployed to 450 primary, all-age and junior high schools, as well as 25 high schools in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The placement of reading coaches in schools is part of measures by the Ministry to lift literacy standards, and achieve 85 per cent mastery among grade four students by 2015.
Additionally, the Ministry also took over the USAID/Jamaica Basic Education Project (JBEP), which was previously implemented and managed by United States (US) Contractor, Juarez and Associates, Inc. The project, which began in 2010, provided support to the Education Transformation Programme in 250 primary schools in its first two years, and in its third year, aided the Ministry with improving the reading skills at Grades 1-3 in 172 schools across Regions 1, 4 and 6.
RE-INTEGRATION OF TEEN MOTHERS
In November, the Ministry launched the national policy for the reintegration of school-age mothers into the formal school system. The policy was developed in collaboration with the Women’s Centre of Jamaica and with technical and financial support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).
Also, the Health and Family Life Education Curriculum for grades seven to nine was revised and the programme re-introduced at those grade levels. Forty-six officers and master trainers were taught to train teachers to deliver the revised curriculum.
Over one million textbooks (681,800 at the primary level and 347,945 at the secondary level) were procured and delivered to schools to support teaching and learning.
NATIONAL PARENTING SUPPORT COMMISSION
The issue of effective parenting was given added significance with the official launch of the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) in November. The establishment of the Commission demonstrated the Government’s commitment to parenting support.
One of the main initiatives of the NPSC is the establishment of Parent Places within the six Regions of the Ministry of Education, of which 30 are already in place and a further 30 scheduled to be open. The Commission also received a financial boost from the National Commercial Bank (NCB), in the sum of $5 million over two years to assist in its work.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
As the Government continues to give priority to early childhood education, the budgetary support for the sector and special education, increased from three per cent to some 14.6 per cent or $11 billion for financial year 2013/2014.
Under the Early Childhood Commission rationalisation project, the Ministry incorporated some 68 infant departments into primary schools.
A number of institutions were also built or upgraded under the ‘Jamaica 50’ campaign, which involves collaboration between the Government and Food for the Poor. Among these were the Grants Mountain Basic School in St. Ann; Tydixon, Top Hill, and High House Basic Schools in St. Catherine;
The Michael’s Infant School in Southside, Central Kingston, was upgraded at a cost of $21.5 million through funding from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).
TRAINING OF PRINCIPALS
The National College of Education Leadership hosted training for approximately 350 principals and education officers in various aspects of school management under round one of the Effective Principal Training Programme.
November also saw the launch of the Aspiring Principals’ Programme, a course of study geared towards training individuals aspiring to become school principals. The programme will provide a standard credential, the Professional Qualification for Principalship (PQP), to which the Ministry of Education and school boards will refer before authorising the hiring of principals of public schools.
At the beginning of the 2013/2014 academic year, the Minister announced that some 169 teachers, many from primary schools, had volunteered to be relocated to larger and higher level institutions. The teachers consented to do so in order to optimise the use of the education sector’s human resource.
The development of nutritional menus using local produce was piloted in 150 institutions in Region one. The move is in line with National Food and Nutritional Security Policy, which is being implemented in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture and Fisheries. The policy aims to ensure, in part, that more local foods are served in the island’s education institutions.
IMPROVED SANITARY FACILITIES
The Ministry, in collaboration with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), successfully replaced pit latrines with flush toilets in some 30 schools at a cost of $200 million. A total of 158 institutions have been identified for the project, which is being carried out at a cost of $1.2 billion. It is being implemented in phases with a completion date of 2016. The JSIF, the PetroCaribe Development Fund, Food for the Poor, and the Culture, Health, Arts, Science and Education (CHASE) Fund, are assisting with the implementation of the project.