Mr Speaker, the tone and content of this annual contribution on education has to be special. The subject is far too important for partisan bickering or point-scoring across the aisle or between special interests within the sector. Our heads and our hearts have to be in different and higher places when we are discussing student achievement. So I open by expressing sincere thanks to all my colleagues for their critical support, especially members of the Opposition; to the teachers and their associations for a year spent building bridges, recognizing strengths and weaknesses and reaching accommodations; appreciation to the Churches and the public commentators who have played such a vital role in guiding policy.

Thanks to the parents, farmers, and teachers, for example those in North West St Elizabeth who prepared breakfast for their own and other people’s little children. Thanks to people like Mr Isaacs in New York who has such a yearning and appreciation for the Pratville Primary School which he attended over 40 years ago, that he continues to send supplies and an annual donation even in these challenging times.

Thanks to the members of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica Education Policy Advisory Committee, Honourable Oliver Clarke, Honourable Danny Williams, Honourable Douglas Orane, Mrs Esther Tyson and Mr Cliff Hughes, who, along with the almost 10,000 school board members, offer voluntary service to the cause of education.

Mr Speaker, over the last two years, we have called the Jamaican nation to action over the state of education. We know the problems only too well. This presentation will focus on the solutions. What we are doing this year, what we must do to improve STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.

Mr Speaker, the future of this country rests on effective education. By that we mean passing subjects, acquiring skills, and developing character. Always all three. The best way to balance people’s lives is to give everyone the opportunity for a sound education. Jamaica must stop denying reality. It is idleness, ignorance and weak family life that is fuelling our crime wave; our declining levels of labour productivity, and high levels of unemployability.

It is educational accomplishment and the personal discipline, which is part of it, that made our scientists, our inventors, our professionals, our athletes and artistes as great as they are. Spread the word – if you want to step up “inna” life, ignorance and underachievement are your enemies. Effort and performance are your friends.

While it is the responsibility of the State to provide the basic requirements, for effective education, partnerships are required with all segments of the society to ensure quality and equity in education.

I take the opportunity to thank all the dedicated teachers, as we celebrate Teachers’ Day today. I think of the Early Childhood practitioners who are earning less than their worth; the young graduates I met last Friday working in dark, hot, makeshift classrooms behind the workshop at Porus High, or the ones who in the crisis at Penwood last year stepped forward for training as social workers to better cope with the demands of the job; or the long-serving staff at Bethabara Primary and Junior High who I met recently. There are many more teachers who continue to serve with distinction. Let us salute them all…READ MORE

Download Contribution to the Sectoral Debate by Education Minister, the Hon. Rev Ronald Thwaites


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