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LETTER OF THE DAY - New primary curriculum needed

Published:Monday | May 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

As someone who has lived overseas for more than 25 years, it has always been a warm experience to hear people abroad talk about how wonderful our education is here in Jamaica. However, the facts do not point to an education system that is exceptional. Certainly, we have many who are making it to the universities and colleges around the world, but I am also meeting and having experiences with many others who are incapable of passing a basic spelling test.

Recently, I had an experience where a young man came to my office for help. He told me he wanted to do welding and I promised to help him if he did a few things for me. I wanted him to set down his goals on paper, discuss with me how he would achieve them, and then read a document on welding that I printed off the Internet. The young 17-year-old school leaver came back to me five minutes later to say that he was unable to read the document nor could he put his goals on paper.

Worrying trend

As I examined several of the other young people that I have had to work with since I have been back in Jamaica, I discovered that this was a trend. Too many of our youth are incapable of doing the basic things necessary to make it in this competitive environment.

I believe the time has come for us to move away from business and teaching as usual to define the necessary way of moving Jamaica forward. All of our brilliant scholars here should be able to sit down and think about how we can educate the Jamaican male, how we can make use of the natural sales ability of many of our Jamaicans, how we can stem violence, and how we can fix our economy.

I believe it is time to change our primary-school curriculum and move our youngsters away from the subjects which can be established in high school, while getting them focused on life in the primary school. Our country as it is no longer sees the strength of parenting as the backbone of our society, and therefore what is done in the classroom becomes even more important.

Greater impact

I propose a life-oriented primary-school curriculum which will see children learning the essentials of conflict resolution, goal setting, understanding the development of the global world, what it means to be Jamaican, saving for future survival, group and socialisation skills and finally the reason for respecting each other.

My belief is that if we want to rescue or transform Jamaica, then we need to impact the children today so that we can have a better country tomorrow. Certainly, I am not giving up on the teenagers and adults, but prevention is better than cure.

We need not follow what others are doing to succeed. Most of what they have given to us have failed in their countries and will certainly fail in ours. Let us arise Jamaica, with the brilliant minds we have, and the talents we have been gifted with, to craft that which is uniquely Jamaican and hence good for Jamaica. Then and only then will we succeed.

I am, etc.,

HERRO BLAIR Jr

Kingston