First Look

Education Minister calls for new way of teaching Mathematics

Jamaica Information Service | 2014-12-23 00:00:00

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is calling for a new way of teaching Mathematics in the classroom.

“We have a serious problem in this country, because we discount Mathematics. Mathematics is the prism through which we learn science and science is the (way) for development and employment in the 21st century,” Rev. Thwaites emphasised.

The Minister was  speaking at the Port Morant Primary and Junior High School Christmas Banquet and appreciation function, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on  December 22.

He  said that  phrases such as “Mathematics is hard” or “mathematics is boring” should not be encouraged around students.

“We have to get over that in our students and to do so we have to look at the way we teach a new fashion. We also have to be honest with ourselves and recognise that many of us who teach it aren’t really qualified to do so,” Rev. Thwaites said.

He added that presently there are 1,700 mathematics teachers in high schools in Jamaica.

“We just did a survey and 780 of them are at the top of the scale in every other subject except Mathematics, but they are teaching  Maths. The net effect is that only around 25 per cent of the students who take Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) are passing and that is a problem,” the Minister said.

Rev. Thwaites argued that there is a need to make sure that everyone who is engaged in teaching  Mathematics is in fact schooled in Mathematics.

The Ministry of Education recently launched a national Mathematics campaign, aimed at improving the performance of students in the subject at the primary and secondary levels.                                                                            

Dubbed ‘Math Counts’, the programme involves the training of teachers in new ways to teach the subject. These teachers, called Mathematics coaches, are drawn from schools across the island and have been undergoing training, through sponsorship from the Insurance Association of Jamaica and Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS).

The initiative is expected to play a key role in assisting the Ministry in attaining the national target for proficiency in Mathematics.

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