Bring back glory days to technical schools - teacher
With the proposed establishment of a logistics hub in Jamaica, lecturer in special education at the School of Education at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Joan Spencer Ernandez, wants a return to what she described as the "glory days" at technical high schools.
The Ministry of Education is taking steps to revamp technical and vocational training in schools to help meet the demands of the logistics hub.
Speaking with The Gleaner following the Jamaica Logistics Task Force Subcommittee on Education and Training held at The Courtleigh Hotel on Saturday, Ernandez referred to a study she did at all technical high schools, from 2007 to 2011, which showed that most of these institutions, were not producing satisfactory grades in vocational subjects.
"When we look at areas such as mechanical engineering technology, electrical and electronic technology and the other technical and vocational subjects, on average, fewer than 30 students, in most instances, are sitting these subjects out of our technical high schools and the pass rate for all technical schools is averaging just about 60 per cent," she said.
"In fact, what I found is that some of our traditional high schools are entering more children for these areas than our technical schools, and if these schools were mandated to focus primarily on these areas, then we have a problem," she continued.
She added, "A part of the problem is that things are a bit different now in that, back in the day, technical high schools did a wider variety of examinations that were geared towards the technical vocational areas. CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) has now put these subjects in place, but we are still having huge problems with the high exclusion rate, as small numbers of students are being entered and the pass rate is unacceptable."
She, therefore, called for a collaborative effort in tackling the challenges within these institutions.
She noted that technical high schools now received their grade seven cohort through the Grade Six Achievement Test placement mechanism.
Ernandez noted that with the exception of Herbert Morrison Technical High School and St Elizabeth Technical High School, high-performing students seldom choose technical schools. She said this creates a challenge, as the schools receive students who are unable to cope with grade seven work because of their low reading level.