The Ministry of Education and Youth is implementing several initiatives at various levels of the sector to increase science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) learning.
This was stated by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, during the national STEAM career forum at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, on April 1.
She said the Ministry has introduced the Specialist Subject teacher model at the primary level to strengthen the teaching and learning of English language and mathematics.
“Efforts at pushing STEAM learning will continue to be undermined if secondary-level students are still struggling with reading and comprehension,” she noted.
Additionally, the Minister said under the new National Standards Curriculum (NSC) for the grade one-to-nine levels, which seeks to improve the general academic performance, attitude and behaviour of students, emphasis is being placed on project-based and problem-solving learning, with science, technology, engineering and mathematics/science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEM/STEAM) integrated at all levels.
“We also recognise that if we are to provide our young people with a world-class STEAM education, then our teachers must have access to high-quality training and professional development programmes and resources,” the Minister argued.
She said assessments administered by the Ministry of Education and Youth reveal that many primary-level students are performing below acceptable standards in mathematics and science.
“With the learning loss resulting from the closure of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a lot of catching up to do,” the Minister explained.
Mrs. Williams said the Ministry is also looking at additional activities, aimed at developing and nurturing STEM talent and interest through immersion in STEM experiences at the primary level to strengthen the efforts already being made.
“If we are to increase STEM enrolment at the tertiary level, we have to be deliberate in cultivating STEM talent and interest at an early stage,” she added.
She pointed out that the recent launch of the Coding in Schools programme is aimed at preparing the nation’s students to take their place in the global community.
“This is being embraced with great enthusiasm and we want to see this sustained,” the Minister said.
Mrs. Williams noted that the Ministry is already implementing, as part of its strategic priorities, the broad embrace of STEAM education, not just as discrete subjects to be taught but to be integrated at all levels.
National Mathematics Coordinator in the Ministry, Dr. Tamika Benjamin, said the Ministry continues to be committed to ensuring that every Jamaican student has a solid foundation in mathematics and science.
She said this will enable them to take hold of the range of opportunities available to them locally and internationally.
The event formed part of the Ministry’s activities for National Mathematics Week 2022. The Week, which ran from March 27 to April 1, was held under the theme, ‘Born to do Maths’.