ST THOMAS, Jamaica – St Thomas Renaissance Foundation President, Professor Malton Edwards says the foundation’s Mathematics Honours College programme will use the subject as a vehicle for economic development in the notoriously underdeveloped eastern parish.
The programme is creating a buzz among stakeholders in the parish, with Edwards promising that the new entity will make St Thomas a beacon in the world, with Ivy League universities in the United States as well as technology giants wanting to set up in the parish.
Edwards says technology company Google’s recent donation of 1,100 Chromebooks to the programme will “help immensely” in the initiative.
“The St Thomas Renaissance Foundation is about economic development for the parish of St Thomas and economic development cannot takes place unless there is a strong educational foundation and Mathematics is one of those subjects that, if done well, learnt well by a whole lot of students, then we can have individuals who can function in the society.
“So this donation by Google is going help immensely in bridging the achievement gap, helping the students increase their passes in CSEC Mathematics and then in other subject areas because when we can think critically, we can think analytically, we tend to also do well in other subject areas,” Edwards said.
Director of the Mathematics Honours College, Beverley Hyatt, said in 2015 she saw a need to elevate the passes of CSEC Mathematics in non-traditional high schools in the parish and started the senior and junior quiz competitions for these institutions.
Hyatt stated that the hope then was that the desire to win would motivate the teaching and learning of the subject, with resources being put in place to achieve the ultimate goal of improved performance. This, she said, found favour with the St Thomas Renaissance Foundation, which resulted in the Mathematics Honours College.
“The Mathematics Honours College is an elite entity with a rigorous Mathematics programme within each high school in St Thomas and an extension to Happy Grove (in Portland) that will help all students connect and engage with Mathematics.
“The long-term goal is to have all schools successfully graduating over 80 per cent of their students with a passing grade in Mathematics by the next five years. This we hope to achieve through bridging of the achievement gap in CSEC Mathematics passes, helping students explain and learn Mathematics in their own way, giving students the confidence to provide peer tutoring, allowing students to enjoy Mathematics and developing patience and persistence when solving problems,” Hyatt said.
She emphasised that success will be attained through effective partnerships with parents and a commitment from governmental and non-government organisations as well as the support of all stakeholders in the region.
According to Minister of Education, Fayval Williams, the Mathematics Honours College will foster the ministry’s drive to improve the outcome of the public education system, which will help in the development of the country.
“We understand that because education is the foundation, if we expect to lift the economy, to get better jobs for the people, better housing, better roads, then we have to have an educated population that can create the kind of jobs that can produce things that the world want to buy from us. We want to have an educated population so that big firms will see Jamaica as an attractive destination to come to set up businesses and create those jobs for the people,” Williams said.
Acting Principal of St Thomas Technical, Ricardo Morgan, says the initiative is welcomed by students and teachers.
“The students are excited. We will definitely see more students passing Mathematics, not just passing but at a higher level, more grade ones and more distinctions. So that is what we are looking as some sort of result from this.
“Teachers as well are excited about the whole thing,” Morgan said.