JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The principals of three prominent primary schools in St. Ann are crediting improved academic performances to good teacher-pupil ratio, which makes for better interaction and attention.
  • Acting Principal of Beecher Town Primary School, Carmen Brown tells JIS News that in an ideal world, the class size would be capped at 20 to 25 students.
  • Ms. Brown adds that her school also tries to identify quickly, students with special needs and then do an early intervention, so they can excel.

The principals of three prominent primary schools in St. Ann are crediting improved academic performances to good teacher-pupil ratio, which makes for better interaction and attention.

“The primary schools have come a long way and many parents are no longer afraid to enroll their kids in these public institutions, knowing full well that they can get the quality education that will prepare them for the next level,” says Acting Principal of  Beecher Town Primary School, Carmen Brown, in an interview with JIS  News.

“We find that personal interaction works and that is why class size is very important,” she adds.

Ms. Brown tells JIS News that in an ideal world, the class size would be capped at 20 to 25 students.

“Unfortunately, that is not the reality, as it is not uncommon to see classrooms with 50 or more in some schools. Here at Beecher Town, we have a school population of 152 students and a ratio of 25 students to one teacher. We have been working with what we have, and I am proud to say that the students have been responding and doing very well,” she says.

Ms. Brown adds that her school also tries to identify quickly, students with special needs and then do an early intervention, so they can excel.

Meanwhile, Principal of Ocho Rios Primary School, Gertrude McFarlane, tells JIS News that a reduction in the population at her school has made a world of difference. “When I first came here a few years ago, we had a population of roughly 1,800,” she notes.

“Strategically, we are now down to 1,600 and we have been doing better as a result. The ratio of teacher to student is about 1:45, still above what is acceptable, but a lot better than where it used to be,” she says.

Ms. McFarlane adds that Ocho Rios Primary continues to operate on a shift system, to better accommodate students and also to ensure that those with special needs are given individual attention.

“It is a fact that the smaller the class size, the more personal attention can be given to a student who is in need of it,” she says.

“Many parents want to send their kids to Ocho Rios Primary. We have had to turn down a lot of requests because we don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where our numbers go back to where they were,” Ms. McFarlane points out.

For his part, Principal of Breadnut Hill Primary School, Ricardo Kennedy, says he understands the pressures that come with teaching in an overcrowded classroom, adding that this can make a teacher feel frustrated, overwhelmed and stressed out.

He tells JIS News that he has a school population of 150 students and a ratio of about 30 students to one teacher.

“We try to focus on the good stuff…the things that have been working for us here at Breadnut Hill.  At the end of the day, we are all here for the welfare of the students. Our job is to ensure they get a good and proper education and where we can adequately prepare them for the next level,” Mr. Kennedy says.

The Ministry of Education has, for years, been tackling the problem of overcrowding in many primary schools across the country.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, told a ground breaking ceremony at the Balaclava High School in St. Elizabeth recently, that even with the tight fiscal constraints, the Government has sought to build more classrooms nationally to deal with the problem of overcrowding, especially at the primary level.

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