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More math specialists needed, says Education minister

Tuesday, March 05, 2013 | 11:15 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Ministry of Education says it is moving to address the deficit in Mathematics at the primary and secondary levels.

Portfolio Minister, Ronald Thwaites, says that the Ministry will be increasing the allocation “towards ensuring that sufficient Mathematics specialists are placed in schools where there are weaknesses”.

He said that only nine per cent of secondary school teachers are qualified to teach Mathematics up to grade 11, while 31 per cent of primary teachers are not adequately qualified to teach the subject.

“The results indicate to us that 615 of our primary schools needs support because they are attaining less than 50 per cent mastery at the grade four level and 132 of our high schools are identified as having a critical Mathematics deficit,” Thwaites said.

He was speaking at the launch of the Ministry’s inaugural National Mathematics Week at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Monday.

The Grade Four Numeracy Test results show that in 2009, some 45 per cent of the age cohort achieved the requisite level of mastery in numeracy; 38 per cent in 2010; 46 per cent in 2011; and the pass rate improved to 54 per cent in 2012.

For the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), 53 per cent of students achieved mastery in 2009; 57 per cent in 2010; 62 per cent in 2011; and 63 per cent in 2012. Meanwhile there was a 41 per cent pass rate for Mathematics in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in 2009, which declined to 38 per cent in 2012.

Thwaites said that young people have a fear of Mathematics, which must be addressed, for the advancement of the subject and ultimately, the development of the nation.

The Minister said that the staging of Mathematics Week, which runs from March 3 to 8, is aimed at correcting the deficit in the subject area.

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