STATIN has problems finding statisticians
Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
The general deficiency that the country continues to face in mathematics, which is sometimes due to a fear for the subject by some students, could soon have a negative impact on the supply of data by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
The disclosure came yesterday during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street, central Kingston, head offices.
STATIN Director General Sonia Jackson said it was a critical issue which could affect the long-term sustainability of the entity.
"Staying away from mathematics is going to affect us even in the supply of our statisticians because that is becoming a regional issue. We can't get enough statisticians to support our needs," she lamented.
Jackson added: "... The wider Government - as well who is looking at improving the quality of data within the respective ministries and departments and agencies - is also having the same challenges that we are having in terms of getting persons to do the work. Mathematics is critical and we know it is a challenge."
James Moss Solomon, chairman of Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, confirmed that it was a wide-scale problem in society.
"I am challenged with that … because, yes, you may have a few people with the mathematical background, but then getting them to extrapolate is sadly lacking," he said.
GOING INTO SCHOOLS
But with the problem threatening to affect the supply of data to the public, Jackson said STATIN is taking a proactive approach to lessen the effect.
"We have been going into the schools, getting the schools to come to us and reaching out to the students and showing them the importance of the data so that they will see the importance of mathematics," she said.
She added that the organisation has done three handbooks on economics, demography and geography to stimulate the interest of the students who are at Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations level in secondary schools.
"With this, students can see that it is not just pure numbers, but there are other things related to the studies as well and they were very well received in the schools," she continued.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites revealed recently that only 10 per cent of the teachers who are teaching at the CSEC level are qualified to do so.
Of the 1,048 persons teaching mathematics at the CSEC level, only 105 have the required qualifications of a combination of both content knowledge and methodology for teaching the subject.
In mathematics, 31.7 attained passes in CSEC this year, a decrease from 33.2 per cent last year and 39.5 per cent in 2010.