JIS: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the new school year, which gets underway in September, provides the opportunity to start with a new focus and an agenda for renewal.
“We will therefore go forward with a renewed sense of hope and belief in our collective abilities to find sustainable solutions to new and long-standing challenges in our education sector,” he says in an interview with JIS News.
The Minister, who has been meeting with various stakeholders ahead of the reopening of school, says that the Government values education as a key ingredient for national development.
As such, he notes that the Administration continues to increase investment in the sector, which, he says, is “guaranteed to pay rich dividends down the road.”
He cites, for example, spending of just over $37.6 billion for secondary education alone, which includes funds for salaries, grants, science, infrastructure, furniture and nutrition.
This means, depending on the school population, that the Government has increased per capita allocation to as high as $176, 994 at the secondary level.
“We are pleased that with the allocation of more financial resources, our schools are now better able to manage their administrative functions,” Senator Reid says.
He tells JIS News that a lot of emphasis is being placed on the early childhood sector as “this is where it all begins and this is where it is critical that we get it right.”
“We ended last year with the good news that more than 100 institutions had met all the operational standards of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) to be fully certified. We will continue the work to ensure that more of our basic schools achieve the set standards,” he pledges.
“We can look back at the work we have been doing with some satisfaction that much has been achieved in advancing access to education by more of our students,” he adds.
Senator Reid tells JIS News that while there continues to be challenges, he is pleased with the willingness being shown by stakeholders to do their part in ensuring that “our children are given every opportunity to succeed.”
He argues that whatever is achieved nationally will be dependent on “what we do…while working together as teams in an extended chain of activities.”
He stresses that it is the coming together of the various interests that will advance the sector and provide the ticket towards Jamaica’s sustained economic success.
“As we prepare ourselves for the start of the new school term, let me take this opportunity to thank all the hard-working stakeholders in our education system including our teachers, students, parents, board members, administrative and ancillary staff, and Ministry of Education, Youth and Information staff,” he says.
Principal of John Rollins Success Primary in St. James, Yvonne Williams-Wisdom, tells JIS News that the Ministry must be commended for its openness and eagerness to maintain meaningful dialogue with stakeholders.
She also hails parents “for doing their part and for giving us some much-needed assistance in our quest to achieve our goals and in giving our students a quality education.”
The view is shared by Senior Teacher at Beecher Town Primary in St. Ann, Carmen Brown, who is attributing the academic and cultural successes at her school to a great community support system.
“Our nation’s future depends on how well we do in education…no doubt about that,” she notes.
“Show me a highly developed nation and I will show you a nation that invests heavily in its education system. We have to ensure that all hands are on deck and that we take the time as educators to nurture the many talented students, who have been placed under our care,” she adds.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid