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By Tamekia Kentish
The government has taken a keen interest in what they call the total-education of its citizenry, and so there are greater efforts on the way to improve the quality of our education system - from early childhood to university level.
The new educational mantra by the way, is "free education for all children… no child should be turned away from school because of money."
The Early Childhood division is now moving to regularize all existing institutions. Hence, all teachers must be trained and certified. All institutions, public and private, must be duly registered.
This provides the government with a suitable means of tracking the progress of such schools.
The regional educational officers now have proper listings to help them monitor the quality of education disseminated. This is also a useful guide to the teacher-student ratio.
Learning abilities and disabilities becomes easier to detect and addressed. Thus more specialized teachers are been trained to address matters of dyslexia, ADHD, and more severe cases of mental handicaps.
Education in Jamaica has also seen greater focus placed on literacy. One of the increasing trends over the past five (5) to eight (8) years is that many high school students leave high school but cannot read very well.
Simple grammatical rules, vocabulary, sentence structure and comprehension were skills that many high school graduates could apply very well. For a moment, there was a blame game being played out.
High school teachers blame primary teachers, who further blame the parents for poor school attendance and indiscipline; and ultimately parents, blamed the government and the wider society for the indiscipline – and it goes on.
So in an effort to reduce illiteracy, the government adopted a program where students could not move on to a higher grade until they have satisfied the required reading level – this was an ingenious plan which saw increased attention and results for primary school students.
While being aware that major results of the policy changes will not become visible for a few years, there must be some measures to assist current high school students who are not performing well.
The first plan of action was to offer three compulsory CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) subject for FREE.
Students now have the opportunity to sit English Language, Mathematics and Computer Information at no cost to them. As such, these students now have only their effort and attention to bring into discipline.
The government is working over-time to get the education in Jamaica up to a high standard where its citizens can be competitive in a global environment.
For the Jamaican youth who finds him or herself outside of high school but without either the requirements or interest for a college education, such a youth can decide to earn a certified skill at one of the many HEART institutions in Jamaica.
Here, various skills, experience, and sometimes job placement are facilitated by this institution.
For those who are interested in a college/university education, the government has facilitated a student loan program that is open to all Jamaicans without collaterals. The main criteria are acceptance into the institution of choice and two gainfully employed guarantors.
The JAMAL effort is still seeking to eradicate adult illiteracy through there ongoing programmes.
So, whatever else is thought of Jamaica, and despite the greater works to be done, the education system has come a far way. The education sector is a huge part of the Vision 2030 plans, and we definitely hope all that has been outlined to be done to improve the education system in Jamaica will be achieved.
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