Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Secondary Education Not Preparing Youth For Successful Employment- Clarke

Published:Tuesday | December 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Deputy chair of the Labour Market Reform Commission Silburn Clarke is of the view that the present model for secondary school education is not properly preparing youngsters for enhanced employability in the future.

Responding to a suggestion made by anthropologist Dr Herbert Gayle for additional elite boys' schools to be built, Clarke said, "the critical secondary education problem is not a gender problem. The issue has to do with what is being delivered in the five-year period by the institutions."

For Clarke, the purpose of secondary education goes beyond preparing students to enter university.

"The needs of the economy extends way beyond the needs for university entrance, important though that may be," he said.

Meet workforce needs

Clarke further contends that secondary education offerings should meet the needs of students, increase their likelihood for employment, meet the needs of the 21st-century workforce, serve the firms in the marketplace and meet the needs of a competitive economy.

"The cohort of kids (boys and girls) leaving the primary system to enter the secondary stream is presently not being served by the secondary system. These kids have different aptitudes, interests, potentials, maturities, orientations and preferences. For instance, left-brainers are said to be more math and analysis oriented, while right-brainers are said to be more creatively oriented," he added.

According to Clarke, "the Jamaican secondary system persist with a one-size-fit-all approach that treats them all the same, attempts to produce all university candidates, and in the process, dumbs-down all that are not university prospects."

"Of 45,000 kids entering the secondary stream every year, approx 30,000 leave the system after five years without a single certificate in anything. This is clearly not a gender problem!" he said

Clarke has suggested that the secondary system be divided into three separate streams to better be aligned with the needs of students. In Clarke's proposed stream system, classic academic colleges would be geared towards traditionalists students heading to university, technical/vocational colleges for the more technical work-ready students and art colleges for the students leaning towards art and music.

Clarke believes that establishing separate specialised streams, allows for better alignment of the nation's scarce subject-matter teaching staff into these specialist subject-matter schools.

"The kids should not be all treated as one homogeneous, monolithic bloc. The indiscipline, distractions, disruptions and loss-of-focus of the kids in our present school (system) stem from this failure in the structure of our educational system, rather than from the kids or their gender," he said.

- Andre Poyser