Committed to Spanish in schools

Foundation awards trainee Spanish teachers

BY CONRAD HAMILTON Sunday Observer senior reporter

Sunday, December 16, 2012

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THE Spanish-Jamaican Foundation has stepped up efforts to promote the teaching of Spanish in Jamaica's schools.

The Foundation, which fosters partnerships between Spain and Jamaica through educational, cultural, environmental and community development initiatives, says it has made support for Spanish language-teaching a priority.

The entity is of the view that the local education system should provide more opportunities for Jamaican children to learn a foreign language, and is convinced that emphasis should be placed on Spanish.

The development comes as the cash-strapped ministry struggles to find posts for scores of Spanish teachers whose studies were financed by the Government.

It also comes even as the Ministry of Education grapples with demands for more public schools to make foreign languages a part of their curriculum.

"As you all know, in the past decade, the surge in Foreign Direct Investment, moreso Spanish investment in Jamaica, has been unprecedented. It is therefore no secret that the Spanish-speaking community in Jamaica has broadened, and continues to do so at an increasing rate. Given the number of Spanish companies with investments in the island, especially in the hospitality sector, the acquisition of the Spanish language has now become a significant advantage to any new entrant into the Jamaican workforce," said Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica Celsa Nuños while speaking last week at a scholarship awards ceremony at the Shortwood Teachers' College in St Andrew.

"Jamaica is in a privileged geographical position to take advantage of economic interaction with countries that not only are in this vicinity, but whose economies show dynamic trends at a time when other regions, traditional partners of Jamaica, face challenges. Our children will most likely encounter many career, business and lifestyle opportunities where speaking Spanish will be essential," said the Spanish ambassador. She made reference to data from the United States Census Bureau, which says Spanish is the second most spoken language in that country.

At the ceremony, which was a Jamaica 50-endorsed event, the Foundation awarded 50 scholarships worth $50,000 each to 50 student teachers who are pursuing degrees or diplomas in the teaching of Spanish.

In addition, the Foundation, in association with the Embassy of Spain, is providing grants to 50 Spanish teachers who are currently in the local school system.

The grants will allow the teachers to access an online Spanish-teaching programme which will help improve their competence in the teaching of the language.

The Foundation has also pledged to spearhead the construction of a language laboratory at Shortwood Teachers' College.

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