Nadisha Hunter and Lauren Williams, Gleaner Writers
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has indicated that only 16 per cent of the island's educators who specialise in mathematics are competent enough to teach the subject in the classroom.
Thwaites made the claim while speaking at a Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) and Partners Co-operative Credit Union Ltd 2012 scholarship awards presentation at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston, yesterday.
However, Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) president Paul Adams thinks the statistic is unbelievable as teachers continue to upgrade themselves with the needed skills to manipulate the different subject areas."The teachers have upgraded themselves over the past 20 to 30 years so it is with the skills, knowledge and competence of the teachers that we are able to see better results in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC)," Adams told The Gleaner. "The only areas (in education) that have improved over the past 30 years are the quality, qualification and competence of the teachers. Hence I would like to get the minister's source."
The JTA president said teachers are moving from achieving trained teacher certificates to doctorates in subject areas, nationally and globally, so "the qualification, competence and quality of the teacher can't be questioned in general".
During the awards presentation, Thwaites said the ministry would be finding ways to upgrade the standard of the teachers so that the dismal results could be improved.
"That is a reality that is now being presented to me. What we have to do then is to upgrade, not just be sorry about this, and to make sure that more and more competencies are available in these areas," he argued.
Thwaites' claim about teacher competence came days after CSEC results were published, indicating that of all subject areas, mathematics had the lowest results.
However, pressed by The Gleaner the minister said he had only just received the data and would examine it further before making any more comments.
Only 31.7 per cent of the students who sat the exam attained passes, a decrease from 33.2 per cent last year and 39.5 per cent in 2010.
Adams argued that the CSEC results were a reflection of the deficiencies that exist in the education system in terms of the facilities that are there and the state of the students.
"The students need intervention at the primary level so that they can be prepared for exams at the secondary level," Adams said.