'It's not all about the money' - Education minister responds to Youth Council's call to 'Fix our broke and broken education system'
The decline in the social capital of students is being cited by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites as the main problem facing his ministry.
According to Thwaites, students turning up hungry at school, not reading enough and being disruptive are manifesting this decline in social capital.
"I don't think that the main constraint in education right now is money," said Thwaites as he addressed members of The Gleaner's Youth Council last Thursday.
"The complexity of family and social relationships are related to the receptivity of education and our teachers and our schools are being placed at a unique juncture, a disadvantage in terms of having to spend so much time resocialising children in circumstances where they really were not trained to do that," added Thwaites.
In an article titled 'Fix our broke and broken education system', the council had argued that the budget allocated to the country's education system was insufficient, and this has resulted in the inability to better customise programmes to meet the varied learning needs of students and sufficiently prepare them for the working world.
"That's not to say that we don't need more money, of course we do, but that is not the main constraint, and throwing more money at a system that is not effective is not going to really solve it," said Thwaites.
The education minister argued that only about 60 per cent of the actual teaching and learning time in Jamaican classrooms is being spent on providing academic guidance to students.
He argued that this is because teachers have to deal with myriad issues facing children that are tied to social problems such as poverty and poor parenting.
"We know that 30 per cent of our children come to school hungry every day," he said.