Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, Minister of Education, Sep 6, 2015
Good evening fellow Jamaicans.
Education is the most important developmental tool. Therefore, every child between four and eighteen years of age must go to school on Monday and stay in school.
No child must be kept at home without good cause, and no school must exclude any student registered there except for cause as provided for in the Education Code.
Tomorrow, approximately 1000 public schools at the infant, primary and secondary levels will open their doors to welcome almost 500,000 students.
In addition, about two thousand six hundred early childhood institutions, operated by community-based and private entities, will extend their arms to admit thousands of energetic four to six year olds.
In Jamaica, unlike many other countries with more economic resources, there is a place in school for every child from early childhood straight through secondary education.
Also, there is a place for any adult who seriously wants to upgrade their education and skills.
The Ministry of Education has already distributed school fees and other grants totalling $1.2 billion to schools and has supplied them with most of their furniture needs totalling 40,000 pieces to date.
The delivery of furniture will continue during the first month of the new school year.
The Ministry is pleased to announce that 20 schools will be removed from the shift system starting tomorrow and, at least, a further 12 targeted for removal later in this academic year.
The elimination of the shift system will improve teaching and learning by increasing teacher pupil contact time.
Every hour of class time is essential. We cannot afford to waste learning time because of lateness or indiscipline.
This year the Ministry will provide free breakfast and lunch to 125,000 students at the early childhood level.
The new academic year starts on a successful note. The results of the latest sitting of the Grade Four Literacy Test indicate that the country has achieved the target of 85 per cent of students in the grade-four age group mastering literacy by this year.
This result means 100 per cent mastery by the age cohort when we account for the 15 per cent of students with learning disabilities and who will in the future receive special attention.
This degree of achievement by the nation’s children is crucial as it equips them to perform well as they progress along the education ladder from the primary through to the tertiary level.
Our students also improved their performance in the latest Grade Four Numeracy Test [with ____ per cent achieving mastery]
A clear trend of improved student achievement has been established as indicated by the results of this year’s sitting of the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests, the Grade Six Achievement Test, the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.
During the new school year the Ministry of Education will continue to deploy Mathematics specialists in primary schools to assist teachers to effectively deliver the subject. Remember, Maths is the gateway to Science
Maths specialists will also continue to assist teachers in several high schools as the Ministry seeks to maintain the upward trend in student performance in the CSEC Mathematics examination.
In the new school year we will seek to build on the academic achievements of the previous year.
The success of our students reflects the success of our teachers. Without their hard work and accountability for the various teaching and learning initiatives introduced by the Ministry students, could not have achieved significant improvements.
For the new school year the Ministry is providing 100 scholarships and grants for persons who want to become teachers of mathematics and the sciences. We will also grant study leave and part tuition assistance in those specialities.
We look forward to our teachers and principals leading us to greater education outcomes during the new school year.
Every principal and teacher must hold themselves responsible for adding value to each student’s life.
We understand this is a hard time for parents to afford all school needs. So the Ministry of Education is advising principals to exercise flexibility and discretion to ensure that every child is in school.
Parents must also make their financial contribution toward their child’s education by contributing financially to the school their child attends.
So tomorrow, whether it is their first time attending school or entering a new class, the experience should be a happy one for most children.
They look forward to greeting old friends and meeting new ones. They are eager to gain new knowledge and skills that will, eventually, equip them to take their rightful place in society.
Let us not disappoint our children
A good education is the best thing that parents and this generation can bequeath to the younger generation.
This is why the Ministry of Education encourages parents, guardians and community members to make sure that children attend school every day.
It takes a village to raise a child, so we invite all well thinking persons in the community, including the police, to ensure that all children are present when school is in session.
This year, the lunch programme in primary and secondary schools will be for the full five days to encourage students’ attendance.
We must come together to arrest the student drop-out rate, as these students tend to end up on the wrong side of the law. There is no shame in asking for help
No learning can take place if students are not orderly. This year the Ministry of Education will roll out a suite of behaviour modification programmes where needed. The Jamaica Constabulary Force will play an expanded role in the implementation of these programmes in schools.
It is the responsibility of parents and guardians to work with principals and teachers to reduce conflicts and to improve students’ behaviour. Parents must see to it that their children comply with ALL the school rules.
The just concluded athletics championship in Beijing, China demonstrates that Jamaicans are world leaders. We have the fastest runners in the world.
After ten years of institutional reform and strategic restructuring, the education system is now at the sprint phase. Our students, teachers and school leaders are ready to perform outstandingly on the academic track.
May God continue to bless you all.
God bless Jamaica, Land We Love