JIS: Educators across western Jamaica are expressing optimism with the full rollout of the new National Standards Curriculum (NSC) for students in all grades for the 2017/18 academic year.
The full rollout comes a year after it was implemented on a pilot basis in 49 schools for students in grades one to nine at the beginning of the 2016/17 school year.
The new curriculum is aimed at improving the general academic performance, attitude and behaviour of students.
It places direct emphasis 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. It also allows students more hands-on experiences that are similar to real-world situations, making the learning experience less abstract and more concrete.
Regional Director for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information in Region 4, Montego Bay, St. James, Dr. Michelle Pinnock, says she is excited at the implementation.
“I am excited about the NSC, as it promotes the establishment of a learner-centred classroom. Teachers will be able to engage all learners, especially the boys, as they partner in teaching-learning activities that promote the development of 21st-century skills – collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication and problem solving,” she says.
“This curriculum encourages the partnership of parents, students, teachers and the community. Construction of new knowledge through the integration of technical vocation will cause learners to appreciate new content as they connect and move from the known to the unknown,” Dr. Pinnock adds.
She points out that work on the new curriculum started more than three years ago, and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information engaged a number of teachers and other stakeholders.
“The new curriculum will allow students to utilise their own talents and experiences in the learning process,” Dr. Pinnock says.
She notes that Civics forms a major part of this new dispensation, while Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Spanish have been formally introduced at the primary level.
In addition, subject areas such as Geography and History have been separated from Social Studies and are being offered separately starting at grade 7. Chemistry, Biology and Physics have been separated from Integrated Sciences, and will be offered separately at grade 9.
Dr. Pinnock says the changes are aimed at ensuring that the requisite foundation for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in the disciplines is laid during the lower secondary years.
Giving his views on the curriculum, Principal of Herbert Morrison Technical High in Montego Bay, St. James, Paul Adams, says his teachers are ready for its implementation.
“We have been mandated by the Ministry of Education to implement the new standards curriculum and we have done our preparatory work and are ready. This will be a game changer for our students, and we are looking forward to the benefits which it brings,” he tells JIS News.
Meanwhile, parents also welcome the new curriculum, which will further enhance their children’s academic potential.
Charles Baker, whose son attends Cornwall College in Montego Bay, tells JIS News that the new curriculum “offers the students lots of avenues for growth and development as they look forward to becoming productive students and take on the rigours of external examinations. Our children will definitely benefit”.
Another parent, Michelle Stewart, mother of a fourth-form student at Petersfield High School in Westmoreland, is very optimistic that the subjects and the focus in the new curriculum will ensure that more rounded and qualified students leave the nation’s schools.
“The curriculum gives the students more opportunities to fulfil their dreams. I particularly like the idea of getting Civics back into the school, as this will bring our children into a better space to understand the value of knowing about their country, civic pride and good manners,” she tells JIS News.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, interacts with students of Pembroke Hall Primary School, Jabarie Wilson (left) and Jahnae Fletcher. (File)