Categorized | National News

Reading & Math Time Doubled In Primary Schools-Aggressive Education Agenda Laid Out

By K Quincy Parker

More important than the more than five million dollars spent on school repairs this summer, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology has announced that beginning this semester, the reading and mathematics periods for primary schoolers in The Bahamas will be doubled.
Meanwhile, the government has spent $2 million more this summer than it had budgeted to get schools ready for today (for a total of $5 million on school repairs) and has hired nearly 200 new teachers for an additional million dollars.

Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald made the disclosures as he addressed the nation last night on the eve of the 2012/2013 school year.
Of particular interest, in light of the much-lamented national grade point average (a dismal E+), were the minister’s remarks on curriculum reform.

“Now that the external work to schools and classrooms are complete, it is now time to focus our attention internally to the classroom,” he said.
Fitzgerald cited what he called “glaring structural faults in Reading, Grammar and Mathematics” which persist among the student population, and said it cannot be “business as usual.”

“Hence, beginning in September, 2012, we will focus on strengthening the base at our foundational levels of learning. The Primary School Time-Table will be changed to reflect fewer subject offerings and greater emphasis on the Three R’S. The Reading and Grammar periods for grades 1-3 will be doubled, while the periods for Mathematics will be increased by almost 50%. Workshops will begin as early as next week and will continue throughout the year, to equip teachers with the necessary guided approaches to the teaching of reading in the content areas.”

The minister also jumped into the School Policing debate.

The programme, he noted, is a promise fulfilled from the PLP’s Charter for Governance.

“Parents can be assured that their children will safe at school and in their journey to and from them,” he said/ “In collaboration with the Ministry of National Security, the Bahamas Union of Teachers, School Administrators, Teachers and other stakeholders, we have worked out a plan that will alleviate opportunities for those who wish to disrupt the orderly safe confines of the school campus and surrounding areas.”

The minister laid out an aggressive and extensive plan for education, which included the introduction of a High School Diploma.
“A High School Diploma will be introduced and this year’s grade nine will likely be the first cohort to benefit from being awarded the diploma,” he said. “This Diploma will establish standards or benchmarks in student achievement and social development that reflect a high school graduate’s preparedness for the world of work, college or university.”

Fitzgerald also announced that ‘career path academies’ will be created.

“During the month of October, ninth grade students will be administered a Career Interest Competency Test that will identify the technical inclination of our students. Once these inclinations have been identified,” he explained, “select students, upon entering the tenth grade next year will be placed in programmes based on competency and interest for the relevant technical programmes.”

Fitzgerald also said the government would significantly expand and improve preschool education, and that Special Education in The Bahamas will experience a major transformation.

“The government is acutely aware of existing challenges with respect to the lack of special needs personnel coupled with the lack of resources,” he said. “The government before the end of the year will make a announcement and reveal plans unveiling the way forward for our visually, [aurally] and mentally challenged students.”

The minister said the restructuring of Bahamas Technical & Vocational Institute (BTVI) to establish it as an accredited institute with its programme base expanded to accommodate more advanced courses of study, leading to Bachelor Degrees in varied aspects of Trade, is already underway. He promised to support that restructuring, noting that with improved training and instruction, BTVI might become the accredited trade school of choice for Bahamians.

He also talked about COB.

“Every great city has an exceptional university and Nassau will be no different,” the minister said. “The College of the Bahamas will become the University of The Bahamas.”

“The government expects that this university will be the catalyst to generate more nationally based research and innovation, which will lead to more informed decisions and programmes. The College Transition Team has been charged to include the voices of all stakeholders in the identity and goals of the University of The Bahamas.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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