Raft of Proposals Submitted at Roundtable Session

Residents of a number of communities in Clarendon and St. Catherine along with educators from both parishes submitted a raft of proposals at the third in a series of educational roundtable discussions hosted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture.
The residents and educators want the government to offer: compulsory education, reduce the size of classes, zone schools, upgrade the early childhood education programme and increase budgetary allocations to education within the next six to 12 months. Additionally, they proposed that teachers be held responsible for their students’ performance; they want the government to establish and equip school facilities to make them more functional, as well as review all existing policies and programmes relating to education.
The discussions were held last week at the Hotel Versalles in May Pen.
Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson said the talks were being held in an effort to develop a first class education system. Prime Minister P.J. Patterson had appointed a 20-member task force on February 5, 2004, to carry out a thorough appraisal of the system and to make recommendations for its transformation.
The Education Minister noted that a lot of good things were happening in the education sector, but pointed out that “the demands of the world in which we live require that we should make those changes; not just to catch up, but surpass our competitors and so we have to think again about the strategic interventions that we have to make.”
It was agreed at the talks that effective participation was required from parents, private organizations and the community in order to effect transformation.
Similar roundtable discussions have already been held in Portmore and Port Antonio. Other areas being targeted include Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Mandeville.
A review of the proposals will be made by the National Task Force on Education at the end of the roundtable discussions across the island

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