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Education Ministry moves to bolster adult learning

BY COREY ROBINSON Observer staff reporter robinsonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 02, 2012    

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EDUCATION Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites said Saturday night that Government is contemplating several ways in which to bolster adult education and by extension, workforce competency on the island.

Speaking at the Jamaican Council for Adult Education (JaCAE) dinner and awards presentation at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew, Thwaites identified three ways in which this could be done, including an expansion of the much touted e-learning project to all primary schools, so that adults from surrounding communities could have access to the system.

"Secondly, we are about to sign an arrangement for a pilot of 50 schools to receive via television transformation, the best instructions available in English and Mathematics, which again could be available to adult education classes," he added.

"And thirdly, there is the alternate High School Diploma, which we are hoping to have available through the Jamaica Foundation For Lifelong Learning, and the Library Service, as well as churches or any other institutions that are willing by next year," he continued.

Thwaites said the move was necessary as too many persons leave high school without being competent for the working world.

"We have a very high level of inadequate outcomes from secondary schools; it's no longer acceptable just to consider literacy and numeracy," he explained. "A full sweep of competencies enveloped in what we have to call a high-school diploma level is required for workforce competency in Jamaica."

He noted that life-long learning was very important to the Jamaican people and that some 150,000 to 200, 000 Jamaicans should benefit from the measures.

"We have got accustomed to mediocrity, some 70 per cent of our workforce has no certification, and a foundation for the new 21-century workforce is going to be that you have competencies in literacy, numeracy, and some technical skills," he said. "We are seeking to offer the instructions to those persons so that they can take up the opportunities themselves."

He, however, declined to state a budget for the plans but explained that costs could be cut if the existing facilities identified were utilised.

In the meantime, he said that the e-learning programme would be expanded to all primary schools over a two-year period, and that the project will be funded by the Universal Access Fund.

And come next year, 50 primary schools will be used as a pilot to broadcast televised lessons which would be of benefit to both primary school students and adults.

"The idea is to get the best teachers, with their experience and techniques to those schools which are at their weakest, and that will be primarily for the students in those schools and for the adults. It will also be of better help to the teachers of those schools," he said.

He said that with the unstable economic climate, it was vitally important for Jamaicans to bend their efforts toward uplifting people's opportunities in areas that were affordable and lasting.

"Bolstering advanced education is a principal means of doing this," he declared.

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