Western News

Proficiency in English a must — Thwaites

BY KARLA JOSEPHS Observer West reporter josephsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 12, 2012    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James - MINISTER of Education Ronald Thwaites says although the Jamaican dialect should be embraced, the English language is still vital to the development of the nation.

"Some of us have a notion in Jamaica that somehow we can get by with our wonderful Jamaican language. It is a language with its own integrity which uses English words but does not have an English grammatical structure. We all know it and we must revel in it and never disparage it. But I have to tell you that the English language is the language of the work force, the language of professionalism, the language of world trade and therefore proficiency both in written and conversational English is a must; there are no alternatives," Rev Thwaites argued.

He was speaking at the annual Cornwall College Valedictory Service held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James last Sunday.

Rev Thwaites noted that the results from the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) have proved that Grade Six students face difficulty when expressing the English language.

"The surveys tell us that the students of Grade Six understand English well, but when we look at the profiles of their ability to express themselves in English the results unfortunately are very depressing. We have to change that," he emphasised.

The education minister also encouraged the graduates to be proficient in Mathematics.

"It used to be almost fashionable to say, "I can't do Maths, Maths is too hard," that is no longer acceptable for the well-educated Jamaicans. Mathematics is the gateway to science, and science is the prism through which development in the 21st century will be forthcoming," he explained.

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