Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) President Clayton Hall is urging the Ministry of Education to place more focus on the quality of education rather than an increase in the number of school days.
Hall was responding to reports yesterday that the education ministry is contemplating extending the school year in order to enhance student learning.
"There has been research done which is based on the theory of diminishing marginal utility that would seem to suggest that increasing the school days or the contact hours throughout the school year would not necessarily increase productivity," said Hall.
"Productivity would instead be by the addition of new resources. The fact is, if we had a greater number of literacy specialists, if we ensure that we had trained teachers in the basic schools, there are many other things that would give greater return on investments than extending the school year," he declared.
Open to discussion
Hall stressed, however, that the JTA was open to discussion on the matter.
"There would have been significant thought and consideration to move from thinking out loud to actual implementation," he said of Education Minister Ronald Thwaites' comments during a Rotary Club of New Kingston meeting last Friday.
Thwaites had said the ministry was exploring the possibility of extending the school year beyond the existing 190 days, as part of an attempt to stem the regression of students during the long summer break.
However, in making the announcement, he said no decision would be taken until all the relevant stakeholders had been consulted.
Thwaites said extending the school year would require careful negotiation with teachers and school administrators, but noted that has already started.
The minister said studies have shown that the eight-week summer break has resulted in the loss of learnt skills for some students.
He said the studies have also shown that students can regress as much as one grade during the summer holidays.
Yesterday, Hall said many persons had been trumpeting the idea of extending the school year for some time.