The Education Ministry continues to roll-out its Programme for Emergency Education Reform (PEER) to improve the results of Mathematics among primary and secondary school age students.
During an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Chief Education Officer (ag.) Marcel Hutson said that the Ministry is in the process of acquiring Mathematics kits for students across the country.
“The interventions have taken traction. We have begun to look at the procurement of Mathematics kits so that our children can have hands-on material, even as they work, and even as teachers teach so that they will have more concrete materials rather than just teaching in abstract. We have had cluster meetings in the different regions,” Hutson explained.
The $337.4 PEER programme is aimed at improving Mathematics and English performance at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) examination and, more particularly, the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA).
Hutson explained that the initiative has three major components encompassing the immediate, short-term and long-term. He added that as part of the immediate aspect of the programme, over 500 teachers have been trained in content and methodology, and needs assessment were conducted countrywide.
“We have made significant progress in rolling out some of the aspects of the programme…We have the parental aspect with the parental involvement. We have gone to different regions including Georgetown; we have gone to Region Eight which is one of our weakest performing regions… to Monkey Mountain, Kato, Paramakatoi and Mahdia, and in Georgetown we have gone to Sophia, Campbellville and Redeemer schools and so we have done a number of things,” Hudson said.
The official said that it is anticipated that the immediate phase of the programme will impact performance at the 2017 CSEC and NGSA examinations. “When you have a problem existing for a long time, at the click of a finger that problem does not go away, but I believe we have started a tremendous process because we have gone into the Grade Five classes, so we are not waiting until they reach into Grade Six, we are touching them right now,” Hutson said.
The results for English and Mathematics, at the Grade Six levels, were alarming. In 2016, 10 and 11-year-olds took tests on core subjects, which resulted in 14 percent passing Mathematics, revealing that over 12,000 children were not numerate. More than half of those writing English could not sufficiently comprehend the official language to attain a 50 percent score.
Government has undertaken a series of responses to address the institutional, human resource, and strategic planning deficiencies that have plagued the education system.
The PEER provides an initial and rapid response which will administer diagnostic and needs assessments across the country for schools, classrooms, and children. In addition to recruiting and retaining Mathematics specialists, training is being done for school administrators and teachers in content and methodology.
The programme will also seek to roll-out a parent involvement strategy in every region and expand, immediately, the number of class periods assigned to Mathematics at both the primary and secondary levels, beyond the existing four periods.