Digitise school records - Holness
Orantes Moore, Gleaner Writer
GAYLE, St Mary:
FOLLOWING THE fire at Tacky High School in St Mary earlier this month, which destroyed all the institution's archive and transcript documents, opposition leader Andrew Holness has called for the Ministry of Education to implement a national initiative to digitise school records.
Speaking after a tour of Tacky High and the Church of Christ Basic schools in Gayle, St Mary, on Wednesday, Holness insisted that a digital system for storing important academic information was essential.
He said: "All the school records held at [Tacky High] for the school's 36 years of existence have been destroyed. So now, people who would want records for employment, travel or higher education purposes can't get them.
"In today's age, all such records should have been digitised and stored in a secure environment, possibility outside of Jamaica, given the cloud technology that exists.
"Under my watch, we started a programme of creating an education management system, which was available to schools, where a central repository would have been created to store records.
"I think the ministry needs to move with great speed and alacrity in developing this central repository, so schools can scan their paper-based records and have them stored in a safe environment in a digital format.
"What we have seen is the history of the school has been erased and the school will now have to find ways of trying to put back those records.
Holness also criticised the Government's school expansion policy and called for Education Minister Ronald Thwaites to be more innovative in his attempts to tackle the issue of overcrowding.
He said: "The policy of the present government seems to be to expand existing schools. That policy must come with the clear understanding that, if you're going to make schools larger, you have to provide greater management capacity.
"Government policy would be short-sighted to merely seek to expand schools that currently exist. I think the policy should be to build new schools because there comes a certain point where, as the plant grows larger, the management capacity diminishes and, therefore, quality of output also falls.
He added: "The expansion of [Tacky High School] doesn't mean you have to expand the plant. Right down the road, there are other schools that are underpopulated.
"We have primary schools that are not being utilised as much as they should be, and certainly the capacity is much larger than the population, so more creative means need to be employed.
"For example, creating another campus of the school, just down the road, would effectively solve the overcrowding problem at Tacky High."