Government is wasting no time in tackling head-on the crisis in the education sector, with particular emphasis on addressing students’ low Mathematics and English performance at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) examination and, more particularly, the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA).news 20161201 1

Delivering the 2017 Budget to the National Assembly on Tuesday, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan explained that the Government will be undertaking a series of responses to address these and other institutional, human resource, and strategic planning deficiencies that have plagued the education system for many years.

According to Minister Jordan, Government’s near and medium-term interventions include implementing the $337.4M Programme for Emergency Education Reform (PEER).

Minister Jordan said that PEER will provide an initial and rapid response that will administer diagnostic and needs assessments across the country for the school, class, and child. It will also provide for the recruitment and retaining of mathematics specialists, the training of school administrators for improved monitoring, the training of teachers in content and methodology, and the rolling out of a parent involvement strategy in every region.

It also covers expanding, immediately, the number of class periods assigned to mathematics at both the primary and secondary levels, beyond the existing meagre four periods, the Minister said.

According to Minister Jordan, the measures for addressing the deficiencies in the education system include commencing and completing the curriculum reform across the entire public education system, and accelerating the development of appropriate job descriptions and commensurate remuneration packages, in order to attract specialists and relevant personnel. The ministry will be working in conjunction with the Public Service Department and the Public and Teaching Service Commissions, to fill critical human resource gaps across the country by mid-2017.

There will also be the training of all education-related personnel to improve the attitudes, motivation, and approaches to education delivery, with specific focus towards innovation in learning, Jordan said.

Also on the agenda is redefining the duties and responsibilities of school administrators to ensure that sufficient time and energy are available for supervision of teacher-pupil performance and mentoring, strengthening the early childhood development system, and addressing the differences in learning methodologies, he said.

Government will also be developing two model schools that are of the highest, modern, infrastructural standard that can facilitate the incorporation and testing of new and innovative technology, creative delivery and learning techniques and environments, and contemporary learning materials and curricula. These schools will remain centres of education innovation permanently, the Minister said.

This year, the Mathematics and English Language results at the CSEC examination and, more particularly, NGSA, were ‘very depressing and were distressingly alarming’. “The results for English and Mathematics, at the Grade 6 levels, have shown 14 percent passes in Mathematics, revealing that over 12,000 of our children were not numerate, while more than half of those writing English could not sufficiently comprehend the official language to attain a 50 percent score,” Minister Jordan said.