Friday, August 29, 2014

Douglas McIntosh August 27, 2014

Persons 17 years and older who, for different reasons, missed out on the opportunity to attain or complete their secondary education, will get the chance to achieve this goal under a new Ministry of Education  initiative, the High School Diploma Equivalency (HSDE) programme, to be implemented in September.

The HSDE is a three-tiered adult education programme designed to equip participants with the necessary academic qualifications and certification to enhance their marketability and thereby position them to access quality jobs.

Phased implementation of the initiative will be spearheaded by the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), an agency of the Ministry, commencing September 1.

The programme will be implemented in two parts, with the initial pilot phase slated for roll out in six parishes between September and March. These include: Kingston, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Manchester, Westmoreland, and St. James.

Full implementation will be carried out in the remaining parishes between April and August, 2015.

The programme will be delivered at the basic, intermediate and proficiency levels, and will see students being awarded certification at all stages, on their completion of the curricula provisions, and respective stipulated mandatory hours of tutorial engagement.

Classes will span 40 weeks of instructions and will be held in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings from Monday to Friday at 28 JFLL designated adult education centres. These will be scheduled according to the number of persons registered.

Placements will be made based on the results of assessments conducted on applicants, to determine the level at which they are ideally suited to commence.

The initiative is consistent with the Government’s human capital development strategic priority, focusing on education for individual family advancement and national development, particularly in the area of universal literacy.

It is also consistent with the JFLL’s revision of the 40-year-old adult literacy programme inherited from its predecessor, the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL).

Speaking at the HSDE’s recent launch at the JFLL’s head office in Kingston, Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Grace-Camille Munroe, pointed out that the programme’s three levels are equivalent to Grades One to 11 placements and instructions in the regular school system.

She explained that the academic provisions at the basic level are equivalent to Grades One to Six; intermediate – Grades Seven to Nine; and proficiency – Grades 10 and 11.

The basic level targets improvements in basic literacy and numeracy, and will entail instructions in English Language, Mathematics, Life Skills, and Information Technology.

Dr. Munroe said students at this level are required to complete 800 hours of tutorial engagement during the course of their studies.

The intermediate level focuses on high school instructional delivery, specifically targeting the preparation of students to sit the Grade Nine Standard Level Assessment. Instructions at this level incorporate the Caribbean Examination Council’s (CXC) Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) syllabus, and other competence-based syllabi.

The CCSLC is designed to certify the knowledge, generic competencies, and attitudes and values that all secondary school leavers should have attained.

Subjects to be taught at this stage include: English Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and Technology, and Information Technology.

On completion of this stage, students will have acquired the requisite qualifications  to make them more employable,  and also enable them to take the HEART Trust/NTA entrance test for enrolment in skills training programmes at the agency’s academies.

At the proficiency level, students will be on track to complete high school studies and sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) external examinations.

Subjects to be offered at this level are: English Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, Integrated Science, and Information Technology. On completion of this stage, students will be awarded their HSDE diploma certification.

Dr. Munroe said participants in each of the latter two levels are required to complete 1,200 hours of tutorial engagement.

She pointed out that the HSDE’s structure is flexible, as it allows students to conveniently exit and re-enter the programme to complete one level of instructional delivery, or transition to the next.

Registration commenced in July, and is expected to be completed by October, with a minimum of 3,000 participants being targeted for enrolment.

Dr. Munroe advised that the highest percentage of applications has been received from persons in the 15 to 19 age group, who have mainly expressed an interest in the programme’s basic level.

She said as part of the JFLL’s commitment to ensuring the success of all students enrolling in the programme, 205 of the agency’s teachers, facilitators, parish managers, field officers, and support staff participated in its inaugural five-day summer training course  at the University of the West Indies’ Mona, St. Andrew Campus, in July.

The week-long engagement, according to the Deputy Executive Director, was aimed at “equipping and enriching” the participants to effectively implement the HSDE programme across their respective learning sites.

In addition, Dr. Munroe said the JFLL has developed a “robust and dynamic” digital platform, which will enable timely delivery of the HSDE to persons who, for whatever reason, are not able to access instructional delivery in a classroom setting. This platform, she said, will enable those persons to access instructions, once they have computer and internet/broadband access.

She pointed out that the HSDE resulted from a “ministerial mandate” which Portfolio Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, issued to the JFLL to “refocus, reposition, reenergize, and rebrand yourselves, so as to effectively and consistently deliver on a literacy renaissance.”

Welcoming the HSDE’s development, Rev. Thwaites, who spoke at the launch, noted that the “breadth of the curriculum…(has been) carefully thought out” by the  JFLL.

“English and Mathematics are non-negotiable. Social studies and information technology are critical…and an opening to the understanding of the sciences (and) scientific principles…is absolutely essential,” he said.

The Minister also cited the “many possibilities” arising from the programme’s implementation. “There are openings for teachers who may not find a place in the traditional classrooms,” the Minister noted.

In a message read by CXC representative, Jodene Williamson, Acting Pro Registrar, Dr. Carol Grantson, described the HSDE’s implementation as a “defining moment in Jamaica’s history.”

She said the regional body welcomes the opportunity for collaboration with the JFLL and other stakeholders to facilitate certification of persons meeting the programme’s requirements.

“The CXC recognizes the importance of this milestone initiative in the educational landscape in Jamaica, and is committed to ensuring that the systems and processes required for the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC), which features in the intermediate level of this programme, are in place,” she said.

Dr. Grantson argued that the CCSLC is the “ideal component” for the HSDE, in light of similarities in both programmes’ objectives.

Meanwhile, Deputy Opposition Spokesman on Industry, Investment, Commerce, Mining, and Energy, Kent Gammon, who represented Opposition leader, Andrew Holness,  at the launch, pledged the Opposition’s support for the HSDE.

“We will do whatever we can…to offer assistance to this programme…to ensure (its) successful roll-out across the length and breadth of Jamaica,” he  assured.

Established in 2006, the JFLL is responsible for administering a range of academic programmes for enrolled students, delivered at its Adult Education Centres operated islandwide, as well as in partnership with a network of stakeholders, such as libraries, workplaces, and other entities volunteering their facilities for this engagement.

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