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Educators call for review of vocational subjects in high schools

Published:Monday | June 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Jermaine Martin
Sheea Hewan-Brown
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One of the country's educators is calling on the Government to abolish some of the traditional vocational subject areas currently being taught in some high schools across the country.

Principal of Institute of Academic Excellence (IAE), Jermaine Martin, who made the call while addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the company's North Street, Kingston, offices last week, said not only have these subjects lost their relevance in today's society, but they have also lost their appeal to students.

"The traditional metalwork and woodwork need to be removed. We need to find different vocational areas that will stimulate the interest of our students. Get rid of them because these things really not working now," Martin urged.

The IAE principal listed photography as one such field that could be included in the school curriculum to replace other traditional vocational subjects.

However, Jamaica Independent School Association (JISA) president, the Reverend Sylvester O'Gilvie, while not in total agreement with his colleague, prescribed a different solution to reach students in the public-school system.

Don't abolish them

"A lot of the students that we get from the GNAT (Grade Nine Achievement Test) level are those that are more vocationally inclined, so I do not believe that doing away with these subjects would be the way to go.

"What I would do is increase the takings in order to give them further options. In this way, we will be able to reach more of them," stated O'Gilvie, who is also the principal of Undergrad College.

He singled out food and nutrition as a key subject which is relevant, particularly for the nation's tourist industry. He said subjects of this sort must be developed in order to equipped students with skills to compete globally.

In the meantime, principal at Grace Christian Academy, Sheea Hewan-Brown, pointed to the class size in some of the public schools as one of the factors contributing to the failure of boys, especially.

"Boys are more hands-on. They are more interactive; they are more practical. So if your classroom is going to be static because of the class size, there is no room to do anything, then boys will be forced to learn, if they are going to learn any at all.

"If a teacher is not causing a student to learn, they are not teaching, technically speaking. If you have a sea of children to teach, how do you get to each one so you cause each one to want to learn? ... The result in the (public school) system is what it is because real teaching is not going on, real engagement is not going on," she lamented.

nedburn.thaffe@gleanerjm.com