Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
Teachers to participate in professional development activities
THE JAMAICA Teachers' Association (JTA), in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, will be seeking to implement a number of adjustments to the education system in the new school year, in a bid to improve the performances of students in mathematics and English Language.
"We are looking towards some professional development activities to see how we can enhance passes in both mathematics and English, while at the same time being cognisant of those students with special education needs," said JTA president Clayton Hall.
Hall said, in keeping with the association's priority list, administrators and teachers are expecting a delivery of furniture, textbooks and new security plans.
"For the start-up of school, we want to ensure that the facilities are in place, because this is usually a recurrent concern at the start of each school year."
Hall also noted that the JTA would be pushing for changes to the system to spur improvement in the security at schools.
"We are going to be seeking to make some changes to the education system itself to see how best we can commence facilitation of safety and security," Hall explained. "The Government has actually agreed to commence the security fencing in at least five schools for this school year. We are very anxious to see that started."
"The JTA president said while the roll-out of financial grants has begun, the perennial furniture problem still exists in many schools.
"Throughout the course of this week, that is basically when the crunch time is, because schools that don't have those things in place, they are going to face a major challenge," continued Hall. "However, so far, we have had no negative reports, based on the word from our officers out in the field."
In looking forward to the new school year, Education Minister Reverend Ronald Thwaites cited the availability of spaces, the receipts of financial grants, provision of furniture, security, and the nutritional supplies, as the main items on the ministry's priority list.
"The important thing is that we have spaces and schools have received financial grants," said Thwaites. "We have also published a list of textbooks that are available and teachers may request parents to buy."
THE FURNITURE ISSUE
In regards to the furniture issue, the education minister said he wished there were more new furniture, but the present economic situation does not lend itself to more.
"...We are facing a difficulty here, but I am encouraging those schools with a technical facility to assist with the repair of furniture," said Thwaites. "We are also asking the HEART Trust to assist in this area of repairing furniture. The Food For The Poor is also providing some furniture."
The Education Minister also reiterated that mathematics specialists have been trained and are available for assignments to schools which need their services.