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Primary level education in Jamaica is being transformed with a new emphasis on learning rather than teaching, a concept that has been in place for the past three years.
The Revised Primary Curriculum, which is now applied in grades 1- 3, was first introduced in a select number of schools before national implementation in 2003. It seeks to make learning more appealing to students by using methods that have been guided by an understanding of their learning needs.
“More and more, as you work with students, you increase your strategies (and) develop more student-friendly strategies,” said Salomie Evering, Acting Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Curriculum and Support Services in the Ministry of Education and Youth.
Mrs. Evering explained to JIS News that there are no discreet subjects and as such, the new curriculum enabled “children to see links between subjects and ideas”. By making links between concepts, “it’s as though they (the students) are doing all subjects without even realizing that they are doing them”, she noted.
She further pointed out that because the curriculum was integrated from Grades 1-3, the children were able to build on prior learning. This approach has been yielding success, she said, which was evident in improved academic performance over the years, as well as in students’ performance in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
Meanwhile, Senior Teacher and Grade Three Co-ordinator at St Jude’s Primary School in Kingston, Ermin Mair, noted that initially, the new integrated curriculum presented a challenge for teachers. She said, however, that over time, they have become more comfortable with it.
Comparing the old curriculum with the new, Mrs. Mair observed that, “in the old curriculum, it was a matter of the teacher putting out the content.giving the student the content to study or just to absorb”.
However, through the use of participatory methods, the revised curriculum allows students to make discoveries. The integrated curriculum includes topics that foster in students an awareness of self and the environment.
Continuing, Mrs. Mair said the approach “lends itself to reinforcement, and in teaching the topics, you will get aspects of mathematics, language, poetry, and drama”. These help to enable primary school children to be functionally literate and numerate as well as demonstrate a positive self-concept and become culturally aware.
The revised curriculum, therefore, has the intrinsic advantage of giving children the chance to express their creativity, while being interactive.
Pointing out that the curriculum now catered for students with varying levels of ability, an improvement on the previous programme, Mrs. Mair asserted that it would better facilitate the learning process for youngsters.

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