The Ministry of Education is recruiting Math specialists for the upcoming 2014/15 academic year, to be placed in several schools across the island.
“We have had to find over $150 million extra this year to get the programme underway, which will eventually cost more than $1.2 billion over three years,” Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has said.
The programme will see the specialists working as coaches and resource teachers in primary and secondary schools.
Addressing the launch of the Butterkist National Primary Schools Mathematics Competition, at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston, on April 15, the Minister said specialists are crucial, as “students are not mastering numeracy, which is evident in the performance of the Grade Four Numeracy Test and later in the CSEC Math results.”
He pointed out that recruitment of the specialists forms part of the ongoing strategy the Ministry is undertaking, geared at improving the performance in mathematics at all levels of the education system.
Rev. Thwaites informed that other critical aspects of the strategy include improving access to resources for students by providing schools with software licences that can support teaching /learning reinforcement; and providing underperforming schools with teaching support resources.
He noted that the Ministry has placed Mathematics content on the Jamaica Education Television channel, which airs on Flow Cable television network. He added that the programme will be expanded later this year through other channels.
“The Ministry’s goal is to popularise the subject of Mathematics to take it beyond the walls of the schools and into the public domain,” he said.
Rev. Thwaites informed that there is a growing appreciation among the student population of the importance of Maths, “and we want parents and the public to catch that fever also.”
“The response by school leaders to the programme has been very positive. Many schools are asking for coaches and are gearing to improve the teaching and learning outcomes in their schools,” he added.
Turning to the importance of the Butterkist National Primary Schools Mathematics Competition, the Minister said it motivates and challenges the students and teachers to strive for excellence, as well as places the public spotlight on the teaching and learning of the subject.
He lauded Butterkist, subsidiary of Seprod, for fostering a love for mathematics among students, through its annual competition.
“We commend Seprod on its continued sponsorship of the competition and we wish that every participating student will benefit from the competition, in terms of improving their understanding and their application of the principles of Mathematics,” the Minister, he said.
Marketing/Sales Manager, Seprod Group Ltd, Marcia Kitson-Walters, reiterated her company’s commitment to support teachers and students in schools islandwide.
“We want to see better results in Maths at this level and stand ready to support the plans of the Ministry of Education to make it work for the children. Everything we do in the competition is in partnership with the Ministry, the schools and the teachers. We enjoy working together with the stakeholders to bring about positive change and improvements,” she said.
The Butterkist Math competition was started in 1992 to encourage excellence in the subject at the primary level, and to prepare students to better handle math when they begin high school. This year’s contest will be held on Wednesday, May 21, with some 300 primary schools expected to participate.
The prize-giving ceremony is slated for June 20, and the top student will be awarded the Butterkist Primary School Math Scholarship worth $50,000, among other prizes. There will also be special awards for the champion in each parish, as well as for the teachers.