As teachers and students prepare for the 2017-2018 academic year, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the Government is committed to providing high-quality care and education within an inclusive and enabling environment.
This, he said, will ultimately help more of “our people” to be socially conscious and productive.
The Minister was addressing educators on the final day of the 52nd Annual Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) Conference at the Hilton Resort and Spa in St. James on August 23.
“As we do this, we aim to reduce the number of children and youth at risk through public education and needs-based intervention programmes,” Senator Reid said.
“Our objectives are, therefore, to maximise the percentage of Jamaican children aged three to 18 who have access and/or attachment to good-quality education, as well as to increase the number of Jamaican youth who have access to opportunities for governance and advocacy, continuing education, training and work experience,” he added.
The Minister noted that significant strides have been made in the transformation of the education system, noting that the past 18 months have seen a number of major accomplishments under his watch through the Education System Transformation Programme (ESTP), which was established in 2004.
“Under the ESTP programme, the new Administration advanced the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) and Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC) legislation, started the full implementation of the National Standards Curriculum and completed the new structure for a transformed Ministry,” he pointed out.
The Minister said the Administration also recognises the need to intervene in the lives of children, even before they enter the formal early-childhood education system.
“It is within this regard that the Ministry has budgeted $130 million to partner with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to reactivate the Early Stimulation Programme for mother and child from birth to age three,” he said.
The Programme, he said, has been revamped and is being implemented through the Early Childhood Commission (ECC). “We expect that by the end of this month (August 2017), just over 100 early-childhood institutions will have been certified,” Senator Reid explained.
“The ECC has been crafting a strategy for the full transformation of the early childhood sector, to be rolled out in the new 2017/2018 school year,” the Minister noted.
Senator Reid said it is also worth pointing out the significant improvement being shown by males in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) when compared to their female counterparts.
“For the first time in five years, the male students had a higher mean percentage score (76.7%) in Language Arts for 2017 than that of the female students (68.5%),” the Minister added.