(Jamaica Observer) The Government is all set to implement a seven-year secondary level education policy at the start of the new academic year next month, six years after it was first mooted as a way to help students who need an additional two years to sufficiently develop their skills and acquire the qualifications to move on from high school.
Education Minister Ruel Reid announced the implementation of the policy last night in a national broadcast in which he also outlined broad aspects of the Administration’s Education System Transformation.
“Beginning this academic year, every Jamaican child will be able to benefit from seven years’ learning at our secondary schools. While some will move on at the end of five years, those in need of support will be able to benefit from quality offerings that will go a far way in enhancing their chances of becoming productive and responsible citizens,” Reid said in the broadcast.
“I want all schools to do well, and thankfully, we are getting to the point where we will be able to determine the value that individual schools are adding to our students,” he said.
According to Reid, the Ministry of Education has been engaged in an expansive programme of modernisation aimed at improving its systems, service delivery and, most importantly, educational outcomes.
“These measures are of utmost importance if we are to achieve increased productivity, acceptable levels of growth, development and prosperity, and reposition our country as the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business,” he said.
“Under the broad umbrella of Education System Transformation, we are in the final stages of re-engineering the Ministry of Education into a policy ministry with new operational arms.
“Under the modernised ministry, the central ministry will set policy, standards and provide system oversight, quality assurance and monitoring to ensure the faithful and effective implementation of policy,” the education minister added.
He said a Department of School Services will serve as the ministry’s operational arm, providing direct support to schools with its focus being school improvement.
“We have also devolved much of the ministry’s main functions into new agencies, each focusing on specific areas of the education portfolio,” he said.
“We are creating a more effective, more efficient and a more accountable education system through this re-engineering. Alongside this is a renewed emphasis on teacher quality, external quality assurance of our schools, as well as capacity building for educational leaders, and an increased focus on using data to inform decisions,” Reid added.
He said he would shortly provide an update on “significant legislative changes” that are being introduced to empower both schools and the education ministry to act in the best interest of students.
“We have already begun to see the positive results of these changes, and I am convinced that we are poised to do even better,” he said.