On revamping primary education
The Editor, Sir:
I am at one with former Prime Minister Edward Seaga on his recent suggestion that we should consider revamping the primary level of our education system by focusing solely on literacy and numeracy in the first two years of primary school.
As Mr Seaga rightly contended, such an approach would allow for the laying of a strong foundation that would make the teaching of the remaining subjects in the later years much easier and more effective.
I would suggest, however, that to make such a foundation even stronger we should start focusing seriously on literacy and numeracy from the early-childhood level, using various activities and games to help to stimulate and mould those young minds, inasmuch as 75 per cent of the brain is developed by age six. As various studies have concluded, early-childhood experiences are critical to the emotional and intellectual development of the child.
It must be noted, however, that in order to so assist our young children, it is essential that we have in place qualified teachers, who are themselves sufficiently literate and numerate or have a comprehensive and comfortable grasp of the English language or at least basic grammar.
Sad to say, but too many of our teachers are not so fully competent to be of value to our children. I have sat in on some classes and have been appalled by some of what some teachers pass on to our young children.
If our children are misdirected or steered incorrectly in their tender years, it will prove rather difficult to correct the educational wrongs so done and will therefore further handicap our efforts to correct our literacy problem.
It has been made very clear in recent times that too many of our children are lacking the requisite level of literacy and numeracy. The results of the recent Grade Four Literacy Test revealed that a mere and embarrassing 45 per cent of our students at the grade four level achieved mastery.
With a failing or failed education system, no wonder there are so many social challenges or so much deviant behaviour consuming our land. Encouragingly, though, Education Minister Andrew Holness seems to get the message or understand the situation.
I am, etc.,
KEVIN K.O. SANGSTER