Back to School 2017
Education Minister, Senator Ruel Reid says he is hopeful and optimistic that the country will see great improvement in the education system this year.
The minster, in his back-to-school broadcast yesterday, not only expressed optimism, but also indicated that all the necessary preparations had been made for the start of the new academic year, which begins today.
Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid has said much work has been done to lay the foundation for improved student performance.
“My fellow Jamaicans, as we begin this new school year we do so with much optimism and confidence that this will be a very good year for the education of our young people in Jamaica.
Much work has been done to lay the foundation for improved student performance. School plants have been renovated, furniture and other equipment have been provided, and most important, the first tranche operational grants have been sent to our schools in good time to allow for the smooth reopening of our institutions,” Senator Reid said.
The minister said he was further encouraged by the examination results from the nation's students, which point to the progress being made through new initiatives to improve outcomes.
“With the continued excellent guidance of our teachers and application of our students we will see good results,” he said.
Minister Reid said that approximately $36.7 billion was being spent on secondary education for this academic year, which covers salaries, grants, technical and vocational education and training, information and communications technology, science, infrastructure, furniture, and nutrition.
Additional support, he added, will be provided, such as additional teachers for those schools that require special support based on the nature of the students and special programmes being offered; 25 temporary deans of disciples; more than 1,000 young people to be engaged as lab technicians, safety and security support officers, clerical officers, and environmental wardens and will be placed in selected schools; and payment to 913 cooks across the system to the tune of $274.8 million.
In addition, Senator Reid promised that the ministry would be honouring its commitment to increase funding to primary, all-age and junior high schools with a budget of $1 billion, excluding salaries.
At the early childhood level, he said many schools need help and, as part of the efforts to improve standards and give the children a strong foundation as they begin their education journey, the ministry would be taking over a number these schools.
According to the minister, 117 basic schools will be converted into 56 infant departments by the education ministry.
“Our mantra 'Every child can learn, every child must learn' is at the centre of what we do. So we are ensuring that our children with special needs are not left behind,” he added, noting that the ministry's Special Education Unit will place 1,474 students in special education facilities at a cost of $57.8 million.
As it relates to the new national curriculum, which started last year, the minister said it will be fully implemented in all grades up to nine in the first term of the new school year. The Alternative Pathway for Secondary Level Education will also be launched in 84 schools, he said.
He added: “The Career Advancement Programme has been expanded as the flagship programme for the creation of an additional two years at the secondary level. Over 123 schools have been approved to offer the programme to date and others are being processed.”
In the meantime, the minister reiterated the Government's non-obligatory policy towards the payment of fees at the secondary level.
However, he has encouraged parents to contribute to their children's school, once an agreement has been reached and approved by the board of governors.
“My fellow Jamaicans, this year we have another great opportunity to redouble our efforts to help create an education system which enables every child to achieve his or her full potential,” said the education minister.
Source: Jamaica Information Service