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December 28, 2013
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Minister Thwaites welcomes STEM initative

Education Minister the Reverend Ronald Thwaites has announced that the administration of one local teachers' training college has decided to restructure the institution's programmes to focus more on offering courses in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

While not identifying the college, Thwaites welcomed the decision, taken recently and communicated to him, noting that it augured well for the ministry's efforts at strengthening and advancing the teaching and learning of mathematics, which, he said, was, to a significant extent, below par.

Additionally, he said that the move would go a far way in advancing the ministry's thrust to have schools, particularly at the secondary level, focus on offering more technically and vocationally oriented subjects in their curricula.

Thwaites, who was speaking at the closing session of a two-day retreat for the ministry's mathematics specialists, held recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, stressed the need for more teachers' colleges to follow the example of the institution and "excel in mathematics", among other sciences, and technically and vocationally oriented programmes.

In this regard, Thwaites said the decision by the administration of the particular college to transform itself into a STEM institution, rather than remain focused on offering a breadth of subjects or programmes, was "good".

"I assure you that the graduates from that college are going to be easily employed ... certainly in the school system and, no doubt, elsewhere," he said.

Competent teachers

The minister pointed out that while there was a need for teachers of English in countries such as China, Japan, Brazil, and France, those countries were also querying the availability of competent mathematics teachers from Jamaica.

The two-day retreat, which was attended by mathematics specialists attached to the ministry's six regions, entailed discussions and deliberations on a range of topics. These included problem-solving approaches to teaching mathematics; working with principals and teachers; evaluation of strengths and weaknesses; reviewing the strategic plan; and challenges to its implementation.

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