PM: No politics in education
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has urged stakeholders in the education sector to ensure that politics is kept out of the educational system.
Addressing a symposium put on by the Career Advancement Programme (CAP) of the education ministry, Simpson Miller argued that politics has no place in the development of the nation's young people, and without a sound educational system, Jamaica will not grow.
The prime minister said she is committed to creating possibilities for the nation's children because it cannot afford the price of their ignorance.
"We will not be able to effectively eliminate poverty unless we reduce the number of young persons who are unattached or at risk," said Simpson Miller, as she pointed to data from the Ministry of Education which showed that of the 42,000 students set to leave the secondary system next year, 9,000 will not leave with the required competences.
"We cannot leave them behind," she told the gathering of teachers and CAP officials.
She said she was particularly pleased that Nyoka Taylor and Adrian McPherson, two students from Haile Selassie High School in her constituency, were recipients of scholarships valued at approximately $3 million.
Keeping with the theme of education without political influence, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites praised his predecessor, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, under whose watch CAP was developed.
Thwaites noted that CAP faced several challenges, chief among them being the low level of literacy by the students identified as being at risk, and the high dropout rate of targeted students.
But despite these challenges, Thwaites vowed that "political differences will not hamper any programme within the education ministry".
The education minister praised the work of the teachers for the current success of the programme, which he said is seeing incremental improvement in examination results and significant increases in the registration of students for continuing assessment.
CAP is a post-secondary education programme which provides a second chance to youngsters who completed high school without certification in any exit examinations.