Resources Not Available For STEM Roll Out
Ahead of the appointment of seven industry leaders to spearhead the transformation of selected technical high schools into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) institutions, one educator has raised alarm that the resources are not available for the implementation as proposed by the Ministry of Education.
Principal of Jamaica College, Ruel Reid, has argued that schools will need to be properly resourced in order for STEM education to be effective.
"The resources for a STEM roll out just do not exist. The Ministry of Education's budget has been cut, so I challenge the ministry to explain where it is going to find the resources to implement the programme," he said in an interview with The Gleaner.
He also argued that the introduction
of a STEM programme may only be symbolic.
"All they are simply saying is that the schools which are already doing technical vocational courses (tech-voc) will simply say they are STEM, so it's not that you are really introducing any new programme, they are just calling it a different name because that is really what they are doing," he added.
Reid, a former opposition senator, pointed to Australia as the model for tech-voc education and asserted that the ministry is attempting to do what is not done in that country.
"You have HEART/NTA, which is the tech-voc, workforce-training arm, so all you need to do is use the same model. You can transition between high school or university and HEART and get your certification, because in Australia, you can't get a job unless you have technical certification."
Duplication of effort
He went on to state that HEART/NTA already existed to serve the tech-voc needs of the country and it represented a duplication of effort for the ministry to try and enforce tech-voc in each school.
"What you need is integration between the schools and HEART. What they have sought to do is to let the schools take over the delivery of level one and two of the HEART programme, but the school does not have the resources for that," he said.
Reid is calling on the ministry to build the capacity of HEART/NTA as a technical school in particular, with reference to the STEM areas.
He added that students can be directed to the STEM programmes at HEART/NTA through career guidance.
"In the same way we are guiding students to Caribbean Maritime Institute because of the expansion in logistics and we are also guiding them towards aviation,so you don't have to reinvent the wheel to say that everything must be done in the secondary schools," he said.