The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will be incorporating specialist teachers at the primary level in the new academic year.
This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, during the official handover of computer devices from President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Keith Duncan, his wife, Wendy and son, Zachary, to the ‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child Initiative’, during a ceremony at the PSOJ’s Hope Road offices in St. Andrew, on July 6.
The devices include 17 tablets and seven laptops that will benefit students of Mannings Hill Primary School, Stony Hill Primary and Infant School, Golden Spring Primary School and Lawrence Tavern Primary School.
Mrs. Williams said the approach of introducing specialist teachers is aimed at improving the achievement levels at the primary level.
“In our primary schools come September, we are switching to specialist mode from the generalist mode. Right now, one teacher teaches all subjects to the grade. We don’t think that is going to get us there, so we want to see some specialist teachers, especially in mathematics, English language and the sciences, in our primary schools, so we can get the achievement levels up,” she reasoned.
Meanwhile, she commended the nation’s teachers for the work they have been doing in engaging students, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Through this pandemic they have really stepped forward. They were trained in the virtual world to deliver classes and when we look on the data, thousands of virtual classrooms were created into which students came and they were engaged. Our teachers really stepped forward. I know it has not been easy for you in the online world; it’s not something you are used to, but you stepped up and continued to engage our children,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Williams disclosed that approximately 5,000 teachers have indicated their willingness to participate in the National Summer School Programme.
“I know we are demanding more of you as we go through to the next school year, because we have just launched our national summer programme, which started yesterday (July 5), with the online component. Face-to-face starts today (July 6), and we are seeing very good take-up of our students,” the Minister noted.
“Many of our existing teachers have indicated that they want to be a part of the programme, and at last check I think it was over 4,000, almost 5,000 teachers who have indicated they want to be a part of the programme,” she said.
The National Summer School programme forms part of the Government’s ‘Recover Smarter-National School Learning and Intervention Plan’, aimed at helping students to recover from learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The summer school sessions will be held for approximately two hours per day, Mondays to Thursdays, from July 5 to August 19. They will be delivered online and face-to-face, with the latter component primarily targeted at students who have not been consistently engaged with the education system.
Minister Williams encouraged students to participate in the National Summer School. “I would encourage you students to just avail yourselves of what is available online,” she said.
For more information on how to register for the National Summer School programme, persons may visit the website, https://educate.gov.jm/.
The One Laptop or Tablet Per Child Initiative is designed to promote inclusivity in the education sector and aims to provide needy students with the requisite tools to function in the online teaching and learning environment. This includes ensuring equity in access to information and communications technology (ICT)-based learning.