Draft English Language teaching policy under review

BY DENISE DENNIS Observer staff reporter

Monday, September 10, 2012    

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THE Ministry of Education is currently reviewing the draft language education policy as a way of addressing issues with the teaching of English at the primary and secondary level, according to National Literacy Co-ordinator Dr Andre Hill.

His assurance about the review comes as the country grapples with poor performances in English Language in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

Hill said the draft policy will stipulate a system-wide approach to the teaching of English Language. "This certainly would have implications for how student teachers are trained in the teachers colleges and universities," he said.

The nation on Saturday joined in the recognition of International Literacy Day — a day set aside globally to raise awareness about literacy issues. The ministry had designated Friday as the day for schools to mark this awareness through activities with students.

Hill, in the meantime, called into focus strategies being rolled out to deal with literacy challenges, and by extension, problems with English. He said although the core curriculum unit in the Ministry of Education is responsible for addressing CSEC passes, the national comprehensive literacy programme is concerned with the teaching of reading and writing at the primary level.

Nonetheless, he pointed out that the core curriculum unit was conducting an analysis of the CSEC results. "It is looking at the areas the students fell down in and the particular schools that had low performance and will, therefore, move on from that to design a strategy which should include special training seminars for the teachers to improve the areas of weakness identified by the CSEC, and to have the language officers monitor the implementation of the strategy that will be presented," he said.

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, in a message in observation of International Literacy Day, acknowledged that Jamaica has made significant strides in raising literacy levels.

"The focus on literacy through structured programmes at the early childhood, primary and secondary levels are aimed at producing a literate adult population and a globally competitive workforce. Despite the successes, we acknowledge that there is still room for improvement if we are to achieve and surpass our goal of 100 per cent literacy by 2015," he said.

Thwaites said it was against that background that the ministry developed a range of programmes aimed at ensuring that the country's students attain age-appropriate literacy levels.

"The ministry is emphasising the need for more Jamaicans, particularly parents, to make reading a habit. The economic and social well-being of our nation depends on building a literate nation, able to read widely for practical purposes and for pleasure," Thwaites said.

Meanwhile, Hill said schools which could be defined as being critical in terms of literacy will be assigned specialists this year. These specialists, he said, will do staff development capacity building with teachers and will collaborate with the school-based literacy co-ordinators.

"Those persons will now ensure that those persons who need reading assessments are referred to the appropriate personnel to have the assessment done," he told the Jamaica Observer, noting that assessments can be done by teachers, regional co-ordinators, or external professionals in special cases.

He said this strategy forms part of the 'proficiency pathway instruction' at the primary level.





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