Curriculum complaints - Teachers unhappy with regimen
The Ministry of Education is being heavily criticised for how it has handled the implementation of the new National Standards Curriculum (NSC), which is currently being rolled out on a phased basis by the Ministry of Education.
Scores of teachers who attended training sessions for the NSC between July and August have complained about what they describe as a seeming lack of competence of the individuals contracted to deliver the training.
One teacher who spoke with The Gleaner said the trainers were generally unprepared for the training sessions and did not have a grasp of the contents of the curriculum.
"The training sessions were not meaningful as the trainers themselves could not demonstrate these supposed new teaching skills that we are expected to develop in order to effectively deliver the new curriculum," another teacher told The Gleaner.
Under the NSC, emphasis should be placed on project-based and problem-solving learning, with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics/Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics integrated in the teaching process.
The new methodologies are expected to provide students with more hands on experiences, but it appears that teachers are no wiser about how to implement this in the classroom even after the two months of training.
The Gleaner has learnt that some trainers have complained that they were not given adequate time to interpret and understand the curriculum before they were asked to train teachers.
The ministry has said it will spend $131 million on the implementation of the NSC this academic year.
Curriculum expert, Dr Carmen Roofe, who lectures on the subject at the University of the West Indies, has noted that the anecdotal evidence being received from teachers about the roll out of the NSC follows the pattern of implementation deficit that has characterised curriculum policy and practice in Jamaica.
"As a country we have done very well at developing curricula to meet the needs of our students across the different levels of education. However we fail to successfully implement these curricula to achieve the desired results. There are studies available on the Reform of Secondary Education Curricula and the Revised Primary Curriculum that point to the weaknesses associated with curriculum implementation in the Jamaican education system," she said in response to questions from The Gleaner.
According to Roofe, the ministry should make use of the findings from these studies to guide implementation so that the same mistakes are not repeated.
"If curricula development is to have the desired effect, then teachers must be effectively trained in the methodologies and practices of the new curriculum. Additionally, material resources need to be provided to support the implementation," she added.
Roofe, who will deliver the 7th Institute for Educational Administration and Leadership (IEAL-J) lecture next month, further argued that poor implementation of curriculum changes have an impact on student performance.
"There is a definite link between curriculum implementation and student performance. The curriculum leads the core aspects of education. It is the curriculum that provides the structure for the provision of quality learning. How the curriculum is interpreted and enacted will therefore affect the quality of students' performance," she said.
Roofe's IEAL-J lecture will explore the policy and practice of curriculum implementation in Jamaica.