Persons proficient in math earn more, says ministry coordinator
People who are proficient in maths can earn as much as 40 per cent more in the emerging job market, Dr Tamika Benjamin, mathematics coordinator at the Ministry of Education, recently indicated, as she made the case for the ministry's move to adopt the Singapore maths model.
She was speaking during a press conference to launch the Singapore Method of Teaching Mathematics at the ministry's office at National Heroes Circle in Kingston last week.
The ministry recently formed a partnership with Singapore's Institute of Education through the Mike Henry-led LMH Publishing and Marshall Cavendish, Singapore's Partner in Educational Solutions, to train some 150 maths educators locally.
The educators will be trained in a seminar, scheduled for July 13 and 14 in Kingston; and the training session is being supported by the Jamaica National Building Society, which is the main sponsor.
"It is well known that Jamaica struggles in terms of improving student performance in mathematics, one of our core subject areas and a critical area for performance, not just at the school level. It plays a significant part in students' access to jobs in the future," she maintained.
Benjamin maintained that proficiency in maths is playing an increasing role in people's ability to access attractive jobs, but Jamaica's performance remains below par.
Only 55.5 per cent of students who sat the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams passed maths in 2014, while close to 40 per cent failed the math component of the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). This year, GSAT maths also dipped marginally to 61 per cent, down from 62 per cent in 2014.
Against that background, she noted that the Ministry of Education has been seeking to expand its mathematics strategy.
"Singapore has consistently come out on top over the last sittings of the Programme for International Student Assessment," Benjamin noted.
PISA is an annual global study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development of the performance of 15-year-old students in maths.
Singapore, the small Asian developed isle, no bigger than two of Jamaica's parishes, is rated at the top of the educational ladder in the world; and, as the top performer in maths and science. It developed a reliable and valid method for teaching maths in the 1980s, which centres on teaching students fewer concepts in greater detail.