Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, says he is targeting a 10 per cent improvement in Mathematics passes in the major examinations at the primary and secondary levels.
These are the Grade Four Numeracy Test, Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC).
He said that as part of this initiative, the Ministry will be increasing the distribution of Mathematics specialists throughout the education system, particularly in schools where there are weaknesses.
“I’m challenging the schools, the principals, the teachers…we want to give you the help to achieve (these results), and we are going to hold you accountable,” the Minister stated.
He was addressing teachers and students from across the island, who turned out for Wednesday’s (March 6) first staging of the National Mathematics Expo held at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
The Grade Four Numeracy Test results show that in 2009, some 45 per cent of the age cohort achieved the requisite level of mastery in numeracy; 38 per cent in 2010; 46 per cent in 2011; and the pass rate improved to 54 per cent in 2012.
For GSAT, 53 per cent of students achieved mastery in 2009; 57 per cent in 2010; 62 per cent in 2011; and 63 per cent in 2012. Meanwhile, there was a 41 per cent pass rate for Mathematics in CSEC in 2009, which declined to 38 per cent in 2012.
Minister Thwaites told the students that Mathematics is the foundation to a good education and a successful life.
“Along with learning to read properly and expressing yourself in English, Mathematics is the answer. You have to do well in English and in math if you want to get ahead. There is no short cut to those things,” he stated.
Rev. Thwaites noted that the expo, organised by the Ministry, is part of the Ministry’s thrust to address the current under performance in Mathematics in schools.
“This is the beginning of a new surge in Jamaica’s education. We’re going to put excellence in Mathematics at the centre of our school system and at the centre of our national life,” he stated.
National Mathematics Coordinator, Dr. Tamika Benjamin, also told the students that a sound Mathematics education will have significant benefits for their lives.
“These include the ability to function in one’s personal life, such as budgeting, reading and interpreting your utility bills, understanding your loan contracts, estimating and measuring in a variety of contexts and also the ability to access a wider range of tertiary education and professional opportunities,” she remarked.
The National Mathematics Expo was held in observance of National Mathematics Week, under the theme: ‘Mathematically Charged: Empowered for Life’.
The activities of the week, which runs from March 3 to 8, will seek to promote the importance of numeracy; encourage the use of more effective methods of teaching; enhance awareness of the relevance of Mathematics to everyday life; as well as challenging the negative culture towards the teaching and learning of the subject.