Education Ministry responds to 'Turn Back Blow'
Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer
Following a recent Sunday Gleaner story about US-based Jamaican author Roger Williams' unsuccessful attempts to get his novel Turn Back Blow endorsed locally, the Ministry of Education has made it clear that it encourages Jamaican talent, but there has to be an orderly process.
"Things cannot be done haphazardly," said Lena Buckle-Scott, assistant chief education officer in the Core Curriculum Unit. "There is a stipulated time period in which the Ministry invites authors and publishers to submit their work for review for the next academic year."
While confirming that the ministry now has a copy of Williams' Turn Back Blow, Buckle-Scott explained that the delay in response may have been because Williams' submission was outside of the stipulated time frame. She said the time for submissions is usually at the start of each academic year and explained that the relevant information will be released to the media.
According to the Ministry's official website, their Media Services Unit is responsible for the review and approval of textbooks used in the public school system. It outlines that authors and publishers are encouraged to submit their educational materials to the Evaluation section of the Media Service Unit and not any other section of the Ministry.
Buckle-Scott told The Gleaner that despite Williams' early entry Turn Back Blow has been sent to the relevant authorities to be reviewed. She further explained that after a book is reviewed its inclusion in the curriculum is based on how much it meets the stipulated requirements.
FREE OF BIASES AND ERRORS
The guidelines state that writers must be familiar with the curriculum they will be writing the content of educational material for, as the education material or must be applicable to the age and experiences of the child. The writing style must be clear, concise, engaging, introducing the child to new words and concepts, holding the child's interest and be free of grammatical errors, biases and stereotypes.
Authors should also be familiar with educational materials used in public schools, have training in the area and be tax compliant.
Despite the author's frustration about what he describes as a "runaround" by local organisations, several Jamaican institutions are in possession of Turn Back Blow. There are copies at the University of the West Indies Library, the National Library of Jamaica, and the National Environment and Planning Agency.