STEAM to STEM to APSE: What’s the real solution to our education system?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

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Dear Editor,

Ronald Thwaites, while serving as minister of education under the previous Administration led by the People’s National Party, informed us that the country’s education system would embark on a new curriculum, placing emphasis in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). We cannot recall hearing the then minister giving us any explanation for the proposed shift in focus from the curriculum encompassing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

Fast-forward to March 2016. Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid, under a new Administration led by the Jamaica Labour Party, has introduced us to a new programme — Alternative Pathways to Secondary Education (APSE). Pertinent questions to the current minister include: What is the connection, if any, between this new programme and focus and the previous initiative of the former minister? Will this new programme include a curriculum that will comprise focus on the Arts as well, or will it exclude same, just like STEM did? Was a cost-benefit analysis done to assess the viability of this new programme? What is the likelihood of APSE being the remedy for our ailing education system?

As young leaders, we are not merely interested in new and different; we are interested in efficiency and effectiveness resulting from well-thought-out ideas that will make real and positive difference to the lives of the Jamaican people. The Jamaican society is, in part, characterised by overburdened taxpayers with meagre budgets and stifling bureaucracy. For the sake of our young people and our country, we call on the minister to fill any existing gaps in the conception-implementation process of this new programme so that it will bear fruit and lead us progressively into a more prosperous future.

Shane Reid

2016 President

Junior Chamber International — Hopewell




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