of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says there is need for greater balance
between skills and academic qualifications, in order to effectively satisfy and
compete in the labour market.
Delivering the keynote address at the
Kiwanis Club of Kingston’s 50th anniversary scholarship presentation meeting,
held at the New Kingston Conference Centre, on September 2, Rev. Thwaites said
he is concerned that some overseas employers had expressed challenges
recruiting workers, as some were highly qualified academically, but were unable
to apply the requisite skills, while others had the competence, but did not
have adequate certification to effectively balance technical and vocational
“What we have to do going forward, is to
bring those two tendencies together,” he suggested, emphasizing that these are
some of the reasons why the Ministry is reforming the education system, “from
the bottom to the top.”
“At the early childhood level, we have to
put far more emphasis than we have before,” the Minister said, noting that the
Government now devotes 14 per cent of the education budget to that sector.
Rev. Thwaites emphasised that more focus
must be placed on the holistic development of children at this level, and not
“Build their personality…they need to learn
to play, shape, colour and to cooperate…how to play in a team, how to share and
build social competences, so that we can overcome the more than 30 per cent of
our children that aren’t attitudinally ready for primary school,” he argued.
At the secondary level, the Minister said
the difficulties of the shift system must be resolved. “We have to find
different ways to ensure that our children are getting the full time of
instructions,” he added.
Rev. Thwaites highlighted the significant
improvement in Mathematics at this year’s sitting of the Caribbean Secondary
Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, citing the application of new
methodologies, and support for teachers who had a difficulty teaching
The Minister said he also expected
improvement in Science and Technology, as a result of gains in Mathematics.
Meanwhile, Rev. Thwaites commended the work
of philanthropic organizations such as the Kiwanis Club, and alumni
associations, in helping to support and strengthen local schools.
Joelle Blake, a second year Business
Administration student at the University of Technology (UTech), was the
recipient of the Club’s Carlton Levy Memorial Scholarship, which will fund her
tuition over the next three years.
Ambassador the Hon. Burchell Whiteman,
Acting President of UTech, was present at the meeting to congratulate Miss
Blake on the scholarship, which is being offered by the Kiwanis Club for the
The scholarship is named in honour of
stalwart Kiwanian, Carlton Levy, who served the Club for 46 years.