|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
PART 3 PROSPECTS
Policy Direction for the Future
The Ministry of Education & Culture hopes to reduce the employment of untrained teachers and increase the level of qualifications of practicing teachers, aiming for a higher proportion of teachers to be university graduates. The use of distance education technology will be used to facilitate this process especially the upgrading teachers in rural communities.
This is a real problem and policies and strategies will have to be formulated to address this problem. The University of the West Indies (Mona) is undertaking a major study, funded by the Canadian Development Bank, (CDB) to identify problems, summarize earlier research and recommend educational strategies for dealing with this issue.
The Ministry of Education & Culture has presented Green Paper 2000 (August 4, 1999) which represents a commitment of the Government of Jamaica to engage its people in the strongest possible partnership for development through education and training.
The partnership is based on the recognition that it is the return on investment in the building of human and social capital that represents our best hope for economic growth and social peace, the major requirements for an improved and sustainable quality of life in Jamaica.
The Green Paper 2000 states that
"We recognise that the world environment in which we operate now and henceforward is one which will challenge our creativity as we seek to create new knowledge, new products and new markets. It is clear that the competition in trade, the free movement of skills, the ease of information transfer, the reliance on information and ideas for increased productivity and economic growth all require a population much better educated and trained than now exists.
Education must be not only better but different.
The policies and programmes are based on the belief that
each of our children can learn and all of our children must
sound early educational foundations and the nurturing of values which foster personal growth and social responsibility represent a major imperative for adult society
learning is a lifelong necessity
our country has a historical record of success in co-operative initiatives, community and national partnerships, and effective schooling which can support new directions for improved structures and sustainable improvements in the education and training sector
the present global environment at the onset of the new millennium creates opportunities and makes demands for a society which actively develops a creative thinker-worker with the attitudes, skills and knowledge to be a controller of his environment not a victim of it.
Our view is that in the pursuit of progress through partnerships, there are certain frameworks within which we should operate:
We believe that these frameworks are necessary if we are to unite the country around this most critically important thrust towards individual empowerment, social cohesion and economic growth.
We believe that the Charter should contain the following Articles:
The state has the responsibility to ensure that all its citizens have access to an absolute minimum of six years of formal education at the primary level.
The state also undertakes to support Early Childhood Education of children between the ages of four and six years by providing curriculum direction and recurrent financial support to facilitate appropriate learning.
Every child who is born within Jamaica or acquires Jamaican nationality and citizenship has a right of access to opportunity for his/her education to the level and extent possible within the resources of the family, the community and the state.
Parents are under an obligation to make such provision as may be necessary to support the education of their children at least to the point where they have completed 11 years of formal education or up to the age of 17 years, whichever comes later.
No child should be deprived of formal education up to the end of secondary education purely on the basis of economic deprivation.
The quality of the content of the education offered to our young citizens, its delivery and the environment in which it is provided will be of the highest possible standard, which the country can afford.
Basic education will incorporate and be enriched by the creative use of appropriate technologies, including Information and Communication Technology
The education of our citizens will prepare them for functioning in a globalized environment and a highly interdependent world. In doing this it will also reinforce pride in ourselves as a people and promote knowledge of and respect for our proudest traditions, our institutions and an awareness of the sanctity of human life.
The Partnership Agreement
We believe that although the Government of the day has the legal authority, the right to determine policy and the overall administrative responsibility for the education and training programme at any given time, it must exercise its authority in a spirit and real context of partnership with
The Parliamentary Opposition
The Parent Constituency
The Private Sector broadly defined
Civil Society represented by established National Organisations
Within this partnership agreement, the National Council on Education, which is made up of representatives from these entities, will continue to be the
vehicle through which the widest possible input is sought and obtained to inform policy advice and monitor policy implementation.
The Government through the Cabinet and its Sub-committees will ensure that in both policy and practice, there is collaboration for effectiveness and efficiency across its different Ministries and agencies.
Boards of Management of public educational institutions as the agents of the Ministry of Education represent a critical interface between the State and the school community. As such, they will apply the rigorous adherence to prescribed regulations, the careful observance of national policies, and the sensitive responsiveness to the needs of their institutions and clients, which are expected of good managers in a vibrant democracy.
At the community level, the agreed community organisation which co-ordinates community development will be specifically engaged in supporting and monitoring the programmes of the sector.
The Minister of Education and the Chief Operating Officers of the Central Ministry will establish and use appropriate structures and schedules for direct communication with stakeholders at community and regional level."
The Green Paper 2000 continues to outline recommendations for Laws and Regulations and states that the Education Regulations will reflect the following:
Provision for non-teaching professionals in the system to strengthen our capacity for student care and development
Obligation of Education Officers to ensure that School Boards are regularly and appropriately informed about assessments of school performance, Principal performance, teacher performance.
Provision for ongoing professional development for teachers and the obligations of teachers to be involved
The minimum number of school days annually to be 195
Provision for teachers leave and holidays to take into account the learning cycle for students and the special needs of students and teachers
Protection of teachers from unfair dismissal. and students from unfair exclusion
The Paper also states the intention of the Ministry of Education & Culture as it aims to have the population well informed about major National Policies in the following statement:
"We believe that systems generally work best when they are governed by policies which are understood, which are agreed to and receive the support of those who are affected by them.
It will be our intention to rely heavily on public information and public communication in our efforts to make the education and training a truly national effort and to make the best use of all the talents and energies available to the nation.
The system will be performance-driven and results-oriented.
In this paper, we set out the present Mission Statement of the Ministry of Education & Culture and the seven strategic objectives, which currently drive the national corporate plan for the Ministry.
Additionally, critical targets are identified.
Finally, we set out a number of major policy proposals, which we believe will facilitate the meeting of our objectives and the attainment of our targets.
The Mission Statement of the Ministry of Education & Culture, Jamaica:
"To provide a system which secures quality education for all persons in Jamaica and achieves effective integration of educational and cultural resources in order to optimise individual and national development"
The Strategic Objectives:
The Ministry of Education & Culture also outlines some Critical Minimum Targets:
The Green Paper 2000 also addresses some considerations underlying present Policies:
assisted to maximise his talents and abilities, and acquire the highest level of skills and knowledge of which he is capable.
"Each child can learn and every child must"
The Green Paper 2000 also addresses some major policy positions in force or proposed and suggests the following:
1. Automatic promotion of students in the primary schools is not allowed beyond the grade 4 level. Remediation in reading must take place to ensure that students in grades 5 and 6 are reading at an appropriate level.
In summarising, the Ministry of Education & Culture states:
"We believe that Jamaica can deal with its economic and social challenges if we unite around progressive strategies for change, optimise our investment in education, training, cultural development and the nurturing of wholesome values and positive attitudes.
This can be accomplished by a united effort centred around our schools as the focal point of intellectual and social growth and development. But the school, as a physical and social entity, is only the centre. The home, the community, the various governmental and civic organisations have a most important part to play.
Each of us needs to feel ourselves accountable to the others, to the nation as a whole, particularly to our young, and certainly to the generations yet to come. We owe it to ourselves and to the future to start the new century and the new millennium with a firm resolve to advance the welfare of our country and the human race by building Jamaica into a place and a people, which become the envy of the world.
This Green Paper invites you to build Jamaica through education, with efficiency, with effectiveness but also with heart and with spirit. We can do it together."
Ministry of Education & Culture
August 4, 1999