Mon | Jan 21, 2019

JFLL programme commendable

Published:Monday | October 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM
This teacher assists her students at the Railway Basic School in Montego Bay, St James. File

THE EDITOR, Sir: The start of the academic year is typically greeted with an air of expectancy and promise. However, this positive outlook is usually short-lived as soon as the grim reality sets in bringing to the fore unforeseen, as well as recurring problems to all stakeholders involved in the business of education.

Each year, thousands of Jamaican students either graduate from, drop out of school, or are expelled from various educational institutions. Sadly, many of those students leave school without any form of certification, rendering them helpless and almost hopeless in a globalised and competitive world. In this regard, we have failed our students.

Recently, I came across some interesting and informative information regarding the work of The Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL). The JFLL started a High School Diploma Equivalence (HSDE) programme as of September 2014. The programme is geared towards students 17 years and older and provides them with training at various levels.

HSDE basic: At this level, the learner is taught lessons in basic literacy and numeracy, life skills and information technology.

HSDE intermediate: At this level, students focus on high-school studies (grades 7-9). Subjects taught at this level are mathematics, English language, social studies, science and technology, and information technology.

Once students successfully complete the intermediate level, they will acquire the qualifications that will enable them to sit the HEART entry-level test to become a certified skill worker.

This initiative by the JFLL is commendable. However, it makes very little sense to have such a programme if the target audiences are unaware of its existence. I became aware of this programme by chance. This is most unacceptable. The JFLL obviously needs to do a much better job of informing the Jamaican public about this programme.

Additionally, due to the practice of screening by our schools, many of our students are written off as not being able to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations. This practice also contributes to many of our students leaving school without any form of certification.

Too many of our students fall by the wayside after high school, especially our young men. As a society, we can and should do more to rescue and provide skills training for those who desire such skills. In fact, we need a new thrust and vision to incorporate skills-based curriculum in all schools at the secondary level.

The JFLL should embark on a massive public-education programme targeting all secondary schools. There can be no sustainable development if the society continues to ignore the practical needs of a significant percentage of the youth population.

Wayne Campbell