“You have served with distinction, dignity and integrity. With diplomacy and determination, you have executed your duties well. Your desire for success, candid opinion, words of wisdom and encouragement has carried many through copious challenging moments and to you, we are eternally grateful.” Responding afterwards, the proud yet humble teacher thanked all who had gotten together to pay tribute to her and said that she had so many “treasured and indelible memories” of her years in the field of education and that her life had been made richer by virtue of her service to humanity. Rev. Orville Vassell, who presented the sermon, encapsulates Jones’ contribution to the education sector and the community by juxtaposing her work to the Biblical story in St Luke Chapter 21 which spoke of the widow who humbly gave two small coins which was all that she had, but in reality had given more than the large sums given by the rich and affluent who gave mostly for show. In 1977 Jones embarked on a teaching career at the Moneague Teacher’s College where she gained a school certificate before returning in 1993 to acquire a teaching diploma. In 1999 the Bois Content Primary alumnus and native was successful in completing her bachelor’s degree in education, specialising in learning difficulties. Prior to, and during her period of studies, Jones, who is the mother of twin boys, taught at the St Jude’s and Pembroke Hall primary schools. But it was at her alma mater where she left a lasting legacy, a journey that began in 1984. Regarding her retirement, Jones, a devote Christian, said: “I plan to do part-time ministry with the Jamaica Baptist Union and enter into entrepreneurship in farming.” “I am thinking about doing a biography at some point,” she added. Click this link to LIKE US ON FACEBOOK
He also noted that the Ministry of Education is looking into possible policies that can be developed for gender-based learning, to be informed by the data coming out of the conference, as well as by research being done by the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) and the University of the West Indies. Dr. Hill pointed out that girls have always outperformed boys in the history of the Grade Four Literacy Test. Despite marked improvement by the boys in last year’s sitting of the test, with 80.3 per cent of boys achieving Mastery, up from 68.6 per cent the previous year, girls were still ahead by 12.2 per cent. “The realities are there, so the Ministry is now embarking on strategic plans to better address the ways in which boys and girls are taught in the formal education system, hoping of course to narrow the gender gap in performance as a result,” he said. Dr. Hill said that brain-based research indicates that a female brain develops faster than that of a male, particularly in the area of language, with girls developing language skills at least one and half years earlier than boys.
The prices for infant, primary and secondary level textbooks were all found to be competitively priced as there was no significant variation among the outlets surveyed. While most books have seen an increase in the shelf price, a few books have seen a price reduction. The most significant price increase was 67 per cent recorded by the Secondary level text: Advanced Spanish Vocabulary (Second Edition) by Isabel MeleroOrta. The most significant price reduction was 43 per cent for the Secondary level text: Basic Needle Work (Fifth Edition) (Metric) by Winefride M. Bull. In terms of availability, islandwide, 87 of the 130 books were readily available in the bookstores surveyed. Infant level textbooks had an overall availability rate of 82 per cent, compared to 73 per cent for primary level texts and 49 per cent for secondary texts. Texts from the more technical or less popular subject areas like technical drawing and metal work were less available. Infant, primary and secondary level books on average were available in 50 per cent of the outlets surveyed. Generally, infant and primary level texts comprising mainly workbooks had more availability across all outlets. However, as it relates to the general availability of books across 2014 and 2015 of comparable texts, there was an increase of 10 per cent. More specifically, in the Greater KMR the availability decreased by 15 per cent, but in other urban towns there was an increase of 7 per cent.
“We have to flip the system decisively. Academic competencies are important, but they are no higher up the hierarchy of achievement than the practical and technical skills which the community colleges offer,” he said. In her overview, Executive Director, CCCJ, Dr. Donna Powell-Wilson, noted that the programmes are highly applied, and allow learners to be better prepared for careers, by facilitating on-the-job training and improving their personal knowledge and skills. “At the CCCJ, we believe in partnering with industry personnel. If we are to make the National Development Plan, Vision 2030, a reality, which is to make Jamaica a place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business, then we have to provide the educational support that will allow our citizens to be able to provide for themselves in many ways, so that they can achieve that goal,” she said. For his part, Vice President, Student External Relations, Niagra College and CEO, Niagara College Foundation, Sean Kennedy, said he is “most impressed with the work of the CCCJ,” noting that the role community colleges will play in fulfilling the Vision 2030 goals is critical. “The work that community colleges do has never been more important. We are in the human development business and if we do our job right, our communities get stronger, our economy gets stronger (and) employment opportunities for our young people improve,” he argued. Mr. Kennedy said he anticipating that the logistics management programme, in particular, will be very popular with students looking to enter “this very exciting field of management, as Jamaica becomes a global hub for shipping and logistics.” “We at Niagra College look forward to a long term partnership in creating a logistics centre of excellence and several related educational initiatives with Excelsior and the community colleges of Jamaica,” he said. Excelsior Community College will be the lead college in the logistics management programme, and when fully developed, the programme will be offered by all eight community colleges in the island. The CCCJ is a statutory agency under the Ministry of Education which supervises and co-ordinates the work of community colleges in Jamaica.
The other CSEC awards included Most Outstanding Candidate in: Humanities – Aliyyah Abdul Kadir, and Business Education – Ryhan Chand, Queen’s College; and Visual Arts (Two Dimensional Work) – Shivana Sookdeo, Naparima Girls’ High School, and Three Dimensional Work – Nneka Toni Jones, Bishop Anstey High School; and Short Story Writing – Kristan Mohammed, Tunapuna Secondary High School, all in Trinidad and Tobago; and Technical/Vocational Education – Kishan Crichlow, New Amsterdam Multilateral School, Guyana. Prizes and awards presented included University of the West Indies (UWI) scholarships, commemorative plaques, and books. Naparima Girls’ High School copped the CAPE 2014 School of the Year Award, while Queen’s College received the CSEC equivalent. Guest speaker, Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, commended the awardees, noting that political administrations across the Caribbean “want to see more students performing excellently.” He also expressed great anticipation that, come 2015, more students from schools in territories other than Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana, will figure among the top CAPE and CSEC performers. “We wish to see top performers coming from a wide variety of schools, alongside the traditional schools that excel. Our young people, if given the opportunity to excel (will) seize it; and they can meet the academic requirements of top level tertiary institutions across the globe. They can match the scholastic abilities of their counterparts anywhere,” the Minister added. Rev. Thwaites also commended the CXC on its work over the past 40 years, noting that the regional examinations body “has a very important role to play” in furthering the Caribbean’s educational development. In his remarks, CXC Chairman and UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris, described the regional examinations body as “one of the grand accomplishments of the Caribbean,” pointing out that “the staff of CXC…have managed to accomplish tremendous things,” over the years. The Vice Chancellor also extended commendations to the students on their achievements. Delivering a message on behalf of Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, Principal of Jamaica College, Senator Ruel Reid, also congratulated the students, and hailed the inputs of parents and teachers, “who have worked tirelessly with our young people to achieve so much.” Underscoring that “to whom much is given, much is expected,” Senator Reid urged the students to “continue on the path of excellence.” Principal of Naparima Girls’ High School, Carolyn Bally-Gosine, said the institution’s administration, staff, and students were “overjoyed and honoured” to have been bestowed with the 2014 CAPE School of the Year Award. Mrs. Bally-Gosine, who is a past student and has been a teacher at the school since 1982, indicated that “we are proud of all our awardees…and we have enjoyed nurturing and molding them into the exemplars they have become.” Responding on behalf of her colleagues, Celeste Jaggai said: “My fellow top awardees and I are extremely honoured and humbled. We certainly acknowledge our responsibilities as future young leaders, and aspire to the further development of the Caribbean.”