Something is wrong in Hanover — Samuda


Something is wrong in Hanover — Samuda

Observer writer

Thursday, June 20, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY St James - Minister with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information Karl Samuda says “something is wrong in Hanover”, after it was revealed that in the ministry's Region Four, the parish performed dismally in the core subject areas of English and mathematics in the 2018 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

He said the average pass grade for English in the parish was 54 per cent, while for mathematics it was 22 per cent.

“So right away this sends off a signal to the [education] ministry, and to the team in Hanover, that there is something wrong in Hanover. There is something wrong in Hanover [and], it has to be corrected, because we are not leaving one child behind,” the acting education minister stressed.

“The acting chief education officer [Dr Grace McLean] will tell you that I am a data man, and I assess things on the basis of out-turn. Don't tell me how much money you are saving, and don't tell me how much money you are spending. Tell me what is your final bottom line in terms of your achievements, and I want to be able to measure the achievements against the effort that is put in.”

Samuda was addressing a Ministry of Education Region Four consultation meeting at the West Jamaica Conference Centre in St James on Friday.

A further look at the data provided by Samuda has shown that in the parish of Westmoreland, the average pass grade for mathematics was 58 per cent, while for English it was 72 per cent.

St James was the best performing parish in the region with mathematics at 66 per cent and English at 84 per cent.

Region Four encompasses the parishes of St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.

As it relates to Hanover, the acting minister said a meeting will be convened to have an in-depth look at the matter.

“So what we are going to do now is to convene a meeting. We are going to drill down now, and have a meeting with the teams, with the maths teachers, with the English teachers, because we want to find out where the strengths are, and where the weaknesses are,” Samuda said.

“We are not in a position as a country to accept that nearly 80 per cent of the children who took the maths exam fail. We don't have the luxury to entertain that. Something has to change,” the acting minister stressed.

Samuda further pointed to the importance of these core subjects.

“Youngsters have to understand that they have to be prepared to absorb new technologies and that come with a vigorous preparation in the areas of mathematics and English. Without it [English], you can't understand what you are given to study. Without it, you can't cope to get into the field of engineering and all the technical fields that you have the natural aptitude...,” Samuda argued.

He further made it clear that he is at the education ministry to make a difference.

“You know when I came to this job, people thought I was going to be here for about six weeks. I told them if you are thinking of me being here for six weeks with a bat and pads and stop the ball every time it bowls as a night watchman, forget it. I am here to make a difference and whether it is six weeks, six months or six years, I am going to make a difference,” Samuda argued.

“Because, I know what it takes to make this country acceptable to the international community. It is all well and good for us to talk about growth and expansion of opportunities for our people, but if we do not provide the raw materials for our people that they can use to grow their business, we are not going to be considered as a favourable destination for foreign investment,” he said.

Samuda, a veteran politician, was assigned to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, following the resignation of Ruel Reid from the Cabinet and Senate on March 20.

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