Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Williams cracks whip on teachers

Published:Monday | May 3, 2021 | 12:06 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Fayval Williams
Fayval Williams

The performance of educators in the classroom is to come under greater scrutiny from the Ministry of Education in its ongoing drive to improve outcomes and efficiency.

Education Minister Fayval Williams has accused administrators and teachers of short-changing students and offering the country a low return on its investment.

Williams, who was appointed to the portfolio in September, said she was particularly concerned about the deliverables in schools.

“I was very careful to note that accountability is not the same as blame. Accountability means taking responsibility for the results – whether they are good or bad. Assessing those results, taking the action to make those results better the next time,” Williams said during Thursday’s virtual press conference, which drew on her Sectoral Debate presentation a day earlier.

Low teacher effectiveness, the minister said, was in need of urgent remedial action.

Williams said that a review of several reports of the National Education Inspectorate was evidence of the years-long crisis of teacher effectiveness in many primary and high schools.

“I’ve laid out as well some ways in which we can improve teacher effectiveness in the classroom, one being continuous in-service professional and personal development to help our teachers. Teachers spending more time teaching, and in particular, we need to look to see exactly how teachers are spending the class sessions,” said Williams.

A 2014 World Bank study found that Jamaican teachers spent 11 per cent of total classroom time off-task or not engaging in teaching or classroom management. Ten per cent of off-task time was equivalent to 20 lost days in a 200-day school year.

Williams also pledged to introduce character-building into school curricula to address concerns about behaviour.

“We need to teach our children honesty, ethics, respect for other people, and there is a whole host of traits that make up our character that we should be teaching over time. That is going to mean getting the necessary expertise to our teachers. Iit is going to mean activities in school, for example, for a whole month,” said Williams.

The reintroduction of civics has long been championed by education stakeholders.