Letter of the Day | Ruel Reid tooting horn while plunging over precipice
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Ruel Reid just does not get it. He continues to jump and gallivant, shouting from the top of his lungs about how he has abolished auxiliary fees without a recognition of the fact that this has in no way impacted educational outcomes. The recent results of the Grade Four Numeracy and Literacy exams are a telltale sign that Reid is presiding over an educational system in decline and decay.
More than a year into the job, we are yet to get a clear sense of direction on a post-reform policy agenda that will build on the gains made by the Education System Transformation Programme (ESTP).
The ESTP would have already created the mechanism for increased funding and support to schools through the establishment of the Jamaica Education Trust (JET), so the focus of the minister in making school funding the be-all and end-all of educational policy is grossly misdirected. The minister should allow JET to do its work in distilling the finer details of the funding mechanism and support for schools.
Taking the work of one agency and making it the mandate of the entire education ministry is a highly inefficient way of operating an under-resourced education system that has such a multifaceted and critical role to play in the prosperity and growth agenda on which his Government is doggedly focused. This, in fact, was one of the aims of the ESTP: to separate the functions of the central ministry from those of the agencies which fall under its remit. That essential distinction, however, seems to be utterly lost on this minister of education.
His constant titillation with the media has, to the detriment of well-crafted policy positions, not subsided, and his tooting of his own horn about increased funding to schools is indeed no recommendation, as it belies the scant regard which other critical areas of educational policy have received.
Former Primer Minister Edward Seaga and Former Education Minister Ronald Thwaites have continued to be voices in the wilderness crying out for greater focused to be placed on Early Childhood Education; the bedrock of any sound education system.
As a former master teacher and one who has come from the belly of the education system, Reid has been a sour disappointment as it regards a basic understanding of how to create the environment for effective teaching and learning to take place.
The results we are seeing from the performance of schools speak for themselves. A Department of School Services (DSS), should have by now, been operational to drive the improvements needed in school performance and educational outcomes, but the work of DSS continues to get lost in the administrative quagmire of the central ministry.
Having admitted that in the past few years there has been an upward trend in the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy results, Reid does not seems to be alarmed by the fact that this year's results, a decline in the national averages by six percentage points for literacy and four percentage points for numeracy at the grade four level, represent a reversal of that trend.