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'Education system not all-inclusive' - Reid

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Opposition Senator Ruel Reid has called for the establishment of a joint- parliamentary committee to investigate the impact of mild- to-serious cognitive disabilities on education achievement.

Reid, while contributing to the debate on the Disabilities Bill in the Senate last Friday, charged that Jamaica's education system discriminates against persons with disabilities.

He argued that the teaching of mathematics and English needs to be adjusted to ensure better access to those with mental disability.

"We must know that this could be mild to severe, why some people do not do well at maths or science in our system. We even pretend that we are not a Creole society, the first language of the masses," said Reid.

Pointing to the 2014 Task Force on education report which found that 24 per cent of children have serious mental or cognitive deficiencies and 70 per cent were not ready for primary and secondary education, Reid said it is not unreasonable to conclude that at least 70 per cent of our students have some disability or special need.

"This truth is hidden in the differentiation between new high schools and traditional high schools from GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) placement," said Reid

The opposition senator added that the Disabilities Bill has brought into sharp focus that Jamaica has not done enough to reach all our population with education, training and certification.

He said that in 2000, only two per cent of the English-speaking Caribbean population went to a university.

"In 2014, we have only 14 per cent have tertiary education, 14 per cent with technical certification and 70 per cent of workforce have no formal certification. We need the universities to investigate this situation if we are to get our workforce more productive. This must be of interest to human-resource practitioners, the Ministry of Education and the Government."