EDUCATION Minister Ronald Thwaites says that the country's public school system is in an advanced state of readiness for the start of the new school year on September 2.
Minister Thwaites, who was addressing a back-to-school press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston yesterday, said all the schools have already received their portion of grants, totalling $2.7 billion.
The minister, however, warned school administrators that they must be cognisant that money is scarce and as such they should spend wisely and avoid waste, as "public expenditure is governed by our covenant with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)".
The minister also announced that more than 100 teachers have volunteered to be redeployed to other institutions this academic year, which is in keeping with the ministry's plan to improve the quality of education at the primary and secondary level.
He noted that most of those who volunteered are primary school teachers moving to high schools, where their training will be better utilised.
But while the minister hailed the teachers for volunteering, he reminded others that although the present regulations do not support mandatory relocation, he wanted to encourage voluntary redeployment in accordance with the suggestion of the IMF as it will only redound to their benefit and the benefit of the students.
Meanwhile, Thwaites announced that Holy Trinity High, Glengoffe and Anchovy High schools will be taken off the shift system when the school year commences. To facilitate the change, Glengoffe High and Holy Trinity carried out expansion work, while the Montpelier complex in St James is being renovated to facilitate the expansion of Anchovy High School.
In addition, Thwaites said 63 basic schools will be absorbed into 50 infant departments in primary schools, with others to follow later during the school year.
Also, he said the new national curriculum for Grades 1-9 has been completed and will be piloted in the new school year in 24 public and private schools. The curriculum for primary students, he said, will have greater focus on students' mastery of literacy and reading at Grades 1, 2 and 3. This effort, he said, will be boosted by the deployment of more than 650 literacy coaches in the primary school, courtesy of the United States Agency for International Development, as well as Advanced Literacy 1-3 Training that was undertaken by 1,300 primary school teachers.