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Gov’t contemplating incentives to keep specialist teachers

THE OBSERVER: EDUCATION Minister Senator Ruel Reid says the Government is contemplating introducing incentives to encourage teachers in specialist areas, such as mathematics and the sciences, to remain in Jamaica.


“There is a way that we may have to target to incentivise persons who are capable of high levels of teaching competency for math. That’s definitely on the table for consideration,” he said yesterday at a press conference held at the ministry to reveal the results of the 2016 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), as well as the City and Guilds, and NVQ-J examinations.


In an interview with the Jamaica Observer earlier this week, the minister said that while the Government would not be able to offer all teachers incentives, it is willing to examine what additional benefits and support it can offer to those with the highest levels of qualification in certain subject areas.


“You have to ensure that they are really quality and dedicated teachers,” he said.


Senator Reid noted also that one of those incentives could be assisting teachers with their children’s tertiary education. “You know, benefits that are similar to the benefits that they are being offered overseas” he added.


He noted that internships with private sector companies is also a viable option. “In areas such as in their laboratories (and) for those in math, in their actuarial departments… so that they (teachers) can bring those kind of concrete experiences back into the classroom. We want to have a discussion overall with the private sector, having determined quality teachers, as to how we can incentivize to keep them in the system,” he elaborated.


The CSEC results show a 14.3 per cent drop in mathematics, a 3.2 per cent decline in additional maths, as well as an 11.9 per cent and 3.4 per cent decrease in integrated science and chemistry, respectively.


The education minister said the ministry has identified a number of the reasons for the fall-off in maths, and is moving to arrest those issues.


These include not having enough appropriately trained mathematics teachers; trained maths teachers leaving the system; and institutions being unable to identify suitably trained and experienced teachers to replace those who left.


At the same time, he pointed out action taken by the ministry to beef up the number of qualified maths teachers, including scholarships for over 200 students to pursue maths, science and technical and vocational courses. Fifty additional maths coaches are to be deployed across the island with special focus on under-performing secondary schools.


“The national mathematics programme has begun to audit the secondary school system to identify heads of departments who have not yet been trained in the leadership of mathematics programme,” Senator Reid added, noting that these department heads are to undergo three days of training in October.


Of the 35,000 candidates registered for CSEC, 34,486 took the exams, with 29,406 obtaining passes from grades one to three at an 85.2 per cent overall pass rate. Mathematics results reflect a pass rate of 47.7 per cent, while English language recorded a 71.2 per cent pass rate.


Candidates from government schools recorded improvements in 13 of the 35 subjects ministry statistics said.


The pass rate for the CAPE was 86.6 per cent, a 1.7 per cent decline over 2015, while the City and Guilds Examination recorded an overall pass rate of 70.6 per cent. NVQ-J certification fell by one per cent, and close to half of the 9,503 including CAP entries, did not sit all components of the exam.