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Thwaites urges Reid to build on Civics module

Published:Tuesday | April 5, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Ruel Reid
Ronald Thwaites
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Former Minister of Education, Ronald Thwaites has implored Senator Ruel Reid, newly appointed education minister, to ensure that teachers have a strong appreciation of the various aspects of civics, in order for there to be success and sustainability.

Reid announced that he will be reintroducing the teaching of civics in school, while addressing principals and teachers at the Jamaica Teachers' Association 15th Annual Education Conference, held at Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort in St Ann, recently.

Thwaites, during his tenure, had also introduced civics as a module included in the social-studies curriculum.

The former education minister said he believes Reid's first order of business should be proper training of teachers in the subject area.

"It's important that teachers have a good command of civics in its broadest sense. It has to be inculcated in their training and where they are already trained and in the classrooms, additional workshops and seminars are to be held to continue the professional development," he said.

"The teachers are the ones who will be disseminating the information, thus teachers have to model good civics beyond any text. I hope he will continue," the former education minister said.

He added: "We have a big responsibility as media, however, because the popular culture doesn't always promote good citizenship, what the children hear in the nights and on the street corner, sometimes it is difficult for the school alone to antidote. I do appreciate his early concern for the continuation of the programme because I strongly believe that money is not the only factor holding us back in education, but rather a weak social capital."

Thwaites told The Gleaner that, for the most part there has been success following the introduction of the subject during his tenure. He also stressed the importance of collaboration if the objective is to be achieved.

"We started in late 2012 and we centred it around the philosophy and opinions of Marcus Garvey (Jamaica's first National Hero) and it was introduced as a module in the social-studies curriculum. We commissioned a text and a teachers' guide and, as such, it wasn't optional it was mandatory," he said.

"I believe, for the most part, it was sustained and where teachers were interested in getting students to understand their race and culture, it has gone very well. There have been cases, however, where teachers don't think much of Marcus Garvey and, frankly, are not committed to the character development of their students in the way we are trying to meet our objectives," Thwaites continued.

Kandi-Lee Crooks Smith, principal of the Allman Town Primary School, said she welcomed the civics curriculum and was a success for the most part.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com