Jamaica's national curriculum to impact regional exam

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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JAMAICA is set to hold talks with the registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) next month in a bid to ensure that the regional examinations are fully aligned to the island's National Standards Curriculum (NSC).

Chief Education Officer Dr Grace McLean made the announcement yesterday at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange while explaining that testing all across the world and curriculum are moving to getting young people to think more critically.

She was speaking with regards to how the new Primary Exit Profile — the framework which has replaced the Grade Six Achievement Test — will be assessed and how the new mode of testing, in alignment with the NSC, will improve the general academic performance, attitude and behaviour of students.

“If you look at what the industry requires, it no longer requires somebody who knows how to take up a formula and work a particular permutation. They have to be able to think, they have to be able to relate, they have to be able to apply, and they have to be able to come up with the solutions to allow the company to save millions of dollars and earn millions of dollars. That's where curriculum is going right across the spectrum,” she said.

“We are in discussions with CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) and we are trying to ensure that their examinations are fully aligned to the National Standards Curriculum. The process has already started at CXC, Dr McLean added.”

Jamaica, she said, represents 51 per cent of the overall numbers for CXC and stands in a position to impact and inform change.

“We sit on the council and at a meeting last Thursday I updated the committee which I sit on — part of the council — as to the changes that are required to be made, and the registrar will be coming to Jamaica on the 9th of May for us to further update and start the process. CXC follows the direction where industry is going and where the education system is going,” Dr McLean said.

The NSC places direct emphasis on project-based and problem-solving learning, with science, technology, engineering and mathematics/science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEM/STEAM) integrated at all levels. It also allows students more hands-on experiences that are similar to real-world situations, making the learning experience less abstract and more concrete.

The NSC aims to enhance the quality of education offered to learners and improve the general academic performance, attitude and behaviour of students, which will redound to the positive shaping of the national, social and economic fabric.

The new curriculum is also expected to allow students to utilise their own talents and experiences in the learning process, while facilitating the increased use of information and communication technologies.

In addition, civics will return to be a discrete discipline, while technical and vocational education and training, as well as Spanish, will be formally introduced at the primary level. Also, subject areas such as geography and history will be separated from social studies and will be offered separately, starting at grade 7. Chemistry, biology and physics have been separated from integrated sciences and will be offered separately at Grade 9.

The changes are aimed at ensuring that the requisite foundation for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate syllabi in the various disciplines is laid during the lower secondary years.

Moreover, in relation to power and influence, Dr McLean said the Ministry of Education has also influenced the City and Guilds examination body to develop a localised mathematics and English programme that is aligned to the National Vocational Qualification programme which ensures that the 21st century skills are used in terms development of the subject areas.

“City and Guilds now has a speaking and listening component to its assessment so that our students can do this kind of assessment in preparation for them to move out into the world of work,” she said.

The chief education officer maintained that she remains confident in our education system and the change that the NSC will bring.

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