Letters to the Editor

Is the STEM programme another fancy initiative by the Government?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The prime minister at the recent conference of the Jamaica Labour Party highlighted his plan to build STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) schools with the required resources needed to take the country into the 21st century.

As an educator, I applaud this move because gifted and talented students will be given the opportunity to explore and add their value to the various inventions in the fields of science and technology.

That being said, I think we need more information as to how such a programme will be implemented, considering the increasing shortage of teachers and the demand that such a programme has on teacher preparedness and training.

Will teachers be trained to teach STEM, and will they be compensated for preparing such a group? Will the STEM curriculum be copied from First-World countries, or will it be built to align with our current needs as a nation?

At which level will such a programme be implemented? What steps will be taken to help our students acculturate into this higher-level thinking that is required for the 21st century that Holness alluded to?

Will the Chinese monitor the STEM programme to ensure that the desired outcomes are met, or will it be monitored by our local Education Ministry?

On what basis will students be accepted into the STEM schools? STEM has been widely used in First-World countries to create new jobs.

If implemented strategically, such an initiative can be a catalyst for job creation here in Jamaica, but it cannot be implemented with the 'copycat syndrome' that is used to implement the Primary Exit Profile.

It's all good to come up with brilliant ideas, but there must be a system that will ensure that these brilliant ideas reach 21st-century outcomes.

The usual way in which the Education Ministry coordinates training teachers for these new initiatives is not sustainable and has left teachers more uncertain of the rationale for such a programme.

Teachers selected to teach STEM must be trained for at least a year to ensure that they have the required skills necessary to facilitate these learners.

If we, as a country, want to move into the 21st century we must be prepared to nurture our students to help them to assimilate into the critical thinkers that will make the STEM programme a success. T

he curriculum for such a programme must be aligned with the needs of the students, and adequate steps must be made to ensure that students and teachers understand the purpose of the programme.

I hope Holness is serious about STEM because if we were to look at PEP as an example, STEM would be another fancy initiative by this Government. Sherefa Hickey STEM educator sherefahickey@yahoo.com


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