Those students whose academic performance is below par stand to benefit from a suite of alternative programming aimed at making learning more fun for them.
Director of Education Reform, Dr. Idamay Denny, announced during a national address to give an up-date on the 11- Plus Examination and the education system, that one of the new models to be examined in curriculum reform is alternative programming that is of “interest to students in particular schools”.
She explained: “It is going to provide them with support for navigating the curriculum…. It is going to make learning fun and therefore they are going to be more engaged in what is happening.”
Dr. Denny said the programmes would allow students to use their hands to demonstrate to education officials the skills they have and target the interest they have through this applied programming.
The education official revealed that principals would undertake surveys to identify the areas of interest by the students, followed by modification to the instructional programme to target those applied programmes that would make students more engaged.
The Director further stated that the alternate programming would be complemented by remedial structures in literacy and numeracy and the content would be aligned to the new areas of focus to be introduced in schools.
Dr. Denny intimated that research showed that children demonstrated more interest in literacy and numeracy when programmes align that spark their interest.
She used the example of providing more information about a male student’s basketball hero as a means of enhancing their reading skills in the programme of interest and other areas.
She also disclosed that remedial coordinatiors would be put in place at secondary schools to work alongside year heads, heads of department, the relevant officers in the Ministry of Education, and Erdiston Teachers’ Training College. They would develop the content; guide the delivery, and determine the assessment modality to undertake assessments of the students’ progress.
The education official also mentioned plans to implement alternative programming in the Frederick Smith Secondary School.
“We are currently planning with the Principal of the Frederick Smith Secondary School, the implementation of such a programme for that school…. We are going to pay close attention to the lessons learnt, so that we can apply those to the roll-out of these programmes in other schools.”
Dr. Denny continued: “In effect, all schools will continue to develop a core curriculum which the Ministry will designate, but we are going to give schools the latitude to determine that they want to introduce specific applied programmes and we are going to provide them with the support that is required in order to introduce those programmes.”
In instances where students left school without certification, the Director of Education Reform said students would pursue the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications programme led by the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council.
Dr. Denny added that undertaking the CVQ programme had implications for the approval and launching of the National Qualifications and Credit Framework currently in the works.
“By the time the students are awarded the CVQs … those CVQs have currency and they can move on to further education or to the world of work with that certification.
Dr. Denny said the current national curriculum may not meet the needs of all children and that there were some students at the top end of the scale who could manage certain subjects, and others who those subjects were not “doing anything for”.
In the secondary school setting, Dr. Denny said there were children that were “significantly disengaged and this led to activities in the schools that led to crime and violence”.
“So, you have children traipsing around school the entire day, totally disengaged from what is happening…. We also need to put programming in place to address the needs of those children. Those are critical children who belong to this community and if we don’t address their needs, it is going to come back to haunt us at some time in the future,” she warned.