Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Terrelonge striving to make Spanish official second language

Published:Wednesday | April 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica’s education sector is as strong as it has ever been and is poised for grander outcomes as the Ministry of Education ramps up its effort to, among other things, make Spanish the official second language of the land.

That’s the pronouncement by Alando Terrelonge, the minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

“It is full throttle ahead; we are now working on this. In fact, we had a meeting just last week with the head of our language curriculum coordinators, and we had discussions around the completion of the concept document that will inform the policy paper towards officially making Spanish the country’s ­second language,” he said.

Terrelonge said that living in a multilingual world meant that Jamaica’s education sector must make itself part of the move and, as a result, should become a bilingual or multilingual society.

“So we want to recognise Spanish as our official second language, and we will ensure that measures are put in place to achieve this,” he stated.

Terrelonge, who on Sunday addressed the 2019 graduating class at the Shortwood Teachers’ College, told The Gleaner that for Jamaica to achieve multilingual status, it would require added investment at the teachers’ -college level.

Shortwood Teachers’ College has an extensive language programme, dominated by Spanish and French courses. He also spoke of the need for specialist teachers in the classroom to steer students in the right direction, noting that it has been the policy of the present Government to emphasise the value of early-childhood education.

“We are now focusing on getting our early-childhood institutions to be compliant and to be certified. There are now 140 early-childhood institutions across the country that have been certified, and we are attaching infant departments to primary schools for that seamless transition for our students at that level also,” he said.

Terrelonge said that the ministry would also be paying more attention to making it standard practice to have specialist teachers in schools to help bring about the education revolution needed to take Jamaica into the future.

“We will be ensuring that the schools have specialised teachers to train our students at the primary level, in time. In time, we will be moving away from having a single teacher for all the subjects at the primary level. The focus will now be on a specialised teacher for mathematics, for the sciences, and, in time, a specialised teacher for Spanish.

“Education is the best gift we can give our children, and our teachers are the guardians. They are there to help foster greatness in the children of this nation. There can be no Vision 2030 without the input of our teachers, and as the Government, we are committed to ensure they receive the best training,” he said. Approximately 91 teachers graduated from the Shortwood Teachers’ College on Sunday and were charged to maintain professionalism in the classroom.