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Government of Jamaica seeking to hold parents accountable for kids' literacy

Published:Friday | August 5, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Andrew Holness (right), minister of education, discusses the BlackBerry Smartphone for Teachers' Project with Dr Adolf Cameron (left), secretary general of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, while Robert Blier, acting Canadian high commissioner to Jamaica, looks on during the education ministry and Research In Motion BlackBerry launch of the project at the ministry's Heroes Circle offices in Kingston yesterday. - Ian Allen/Photographer

Education Minister Andrew Holness says the Government is developing a "groundbreaking" policy to hold parents responsible for the literacy of their children, as part of efforts to significantly reduce the rate of illiteracy in the country.

"Jamaica has to take the ground-breaking initiative to say that parents are responsible for the literacy of their children, not just merely the education of their children - meaning sending your child to school and providing lunch money," Holness said yesterday during a ceremony in Kingston, where students were awarded bursaries from the AAMM Co-operative Credit Union to attend high schools.

Discussing the policy approach, the education minister said the parents' responsibilities were not necessarily to teach their children, but to supervise them in the completion of homework and to carefully monitor their performance at school.

Teaching for teachers

He noted that the teaching component was mainly a function for teachers.

"Parents have a duty to supervise the education of their children. It matters not if you cannot read; tell that child, 'Take the book'. If they cannot understand what is in the book, your duty is to go and get help," Holness contended.

The education minister also noted that while parents were justified in rejecting the notion that they should be held accountable for the actions of their children, the debate on the issue had expanded.

According to Holness, the Government was "promoting and proposing" that parents should be held accountable for their own personal failings as it relates to their children's education.

He said there were existing provisions in law that deal with the duties, rights and responsibilities of parents.

However, he suggested that there was a gap in terms of the interpretation of these duties.

"What really is the duty of the parent in educating his child? Does the duty stop at sending the child to school?" he questioned.

"The Government is developing policy and legislation to further articulate what those duties and responsibilities are," the education minister added.