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Education ministry says the arts not neglected in STEM rollout

Published:Monday | August 31, 2015 | 8:00 AM
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites
Grace McLean, Chief Education Officer
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The Ministry of Education is moving full steam ahead with its initiative to revolutionise the education system with the introduction of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related academies.

Even as plans are well advanced for eight schools to serve as pilot STEM academies, the ministry says that it is not focusing on STEM to the detriment of the arts.

Speaking at a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week, Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites championed the concept of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) as a comprehensive model for education in Jamaica.

"If we were to describe our motive, it's not STEM, it's STEAM, where the arts are included," Thwaites said while addressing the forum.

Thwaites also pointed out that the ministry was seeking to reposition the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts as a touch point for using the arts to engage students.

 

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"We would like to refocus the Edna Manley College towards using culture and arts as a prism through which to attract an interest in learning as well as a competence in its own right ... ." he said.

Adding her voice to the discussions, Chief Education Officer Dr Grace McLean said, "We are using STEAM as the fundamental basis for the development of our new curriculum, so that is the basis on which it is built.

"Those four areas are used for the building of the curriculum, so when the curriculum is implemented, we will see that all these areas including the arts, will be integrated for greater impact and applicability."

As it relates to the eight schools selected as pilots for the STEM academy rollout, McLean indicated that plans were far advanced in terms of retrofitting the schools.

"We are far advanced. They have worked out their sector areas that were defined; they all have their chairs. They have determined the new areas they will offer and integrated them in the timetable," she said.

The Ministry of Education had earlier announced the appointment of seven industry leaders to lead the STEM academy rollout in selected schools.