Fund­ing pol­icy tar­gets train­ing, so­cial ills

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS - Colin Steer

THE GLEANER'S ed­i­to­rial of Fri­day, Jan­uary 11, 2019, would per­haps have done read­ers a bet­ter pub­lic ser­vice if the writer had at­tempted, ahead of the anal­y­sis pre­sented, to get a fuller un­der­stand­ing of the fund­ing pol­icy for stu­dents up to age 18 as out­lined by Se­na­tor Ruel Reid, the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter, in Mon­tego Bay two days ear­lier.

Against the back­ground of a recog­nised deficit in the skills level of grad­u­at­ing stu­dents en­ter­ing the labour mar­ket, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Youth and In­for­ma­tion has im­ple­mented a num­ber of pro­grammes to boost the level of train­ing pro­grammes avail­able and to help un­der­write the costs as nec­es­sary. This is also seen as im­per­a­tive to tack­ling some of the so­cial dys­func­tions that re­sult from young peo­ple leav­ing schools and be­ing un­able to fit into avail­able jobs be­cause of the lack of req­ui­site skills.

Un­der its K-13 strat­egy, the min­istry has un­der­taken to pro­vide fund­ing for stu­dents at the se­condary level to com­plete seven years of school­ing and to exit with an as­so­ci­ate de­gree. This is be­ing made pos­si­ble through:

A. FULL ES­TAB­LISH­MENT OF SEVEN-YEAR HIGH SCHOOLS

As of Septem­ber 2018, the min­istry moved to pro­vide seven years of school­ing at the se­condary level. This is be­ing made pos­si­ble through the full im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Ca­reer Ad­vance­ment Pro­gramme (CAP) in all se­condary schools with ex­panded ca­pac­ity in com­mu­nity col­leges, teach­ers' col­leges, uni­ver­si­ties, and other pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions.

The min­istry will also pro­vide greater sup­port to the traditional sixth-form pro­grammes that cur­rently op­er­ate in some schools. Through the CAP, a to­tal of 20,000 more stu­dents will be en­rolled at the grade 12 and 13 lev­els. At the grade 12 and 13 lev­els, stu­dents will pur­sue an as­so­ci­ate de­gree, which will al­low them to have a head-start in mov­ing to­wards their bach­e­lor's de­gree.

B. AS­SO­CI­ATE DE­GREES

Ef­fec­tive Septem­ber 2018, the grades 12 and 13 pro­grammes have been so struc­tured as to al­low stu­dents to leave school with an as­so­ci­ate de­gree. These de­grees will in­clude the CAPE, City & Guilds En­gi­neer­ing, as well as the oc­cu­pa­tional as­so­ci­ate de­grees that are avail­able in 16 sub­ject ar­eas. This means that each stu­dent will exit grade 13 with an as­so­ci­ate de­gree, and, there­fore, can now move into the ter­tiary sec­tor to do two ad­di­tional years to com­plete their full de­gree pro­grammes.

Un­der the Joint Com­mit­tee for Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion (JCTE), the Col­lege Credit Pro­gramme on High Schools Cam­puses is be­ing im­ple­mented. This is to build ca­pac­ity and part­ner­ships within the se­condary schools as the stu­dents pre­pare to move on to the ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions. The as­so­ci­ate de­gree pro­vides an added op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to leave the se­condary sys­tem with a recog­nised and mar­ketable qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

There are ap­prox­i­mately 40,000 stu­dents who com­plete the se­condary level each year. Cur­rently, through CAP and the traditional sixth-form pro­gramme, ap­prox­i­mately close to 35,000 stu­dents are able to ac­cess a space in the 201 in­sti­tu­tions that of­fer the two ad­di­tional years at the se­condary level.

Pro­grammes be­ing of­fered in­clude those in CSEC, CAPE, NVQJ, and City & Guilds. These are in the sec­tors that are in de­mand, in­clud­ing lo­gis­tics, en­gi­neer­ing, hos­pi­tal­ity, and global shared ser­vices.

More than $1.5 bil­lion is avail­able for fund­ing the ad­di­tional two years at se­condary. It is ex­pected that over the next three-year pe­riod, through part­ner­ship, the en­tire co­hort of 40,000 will be guar­an­teed a space and sup­port for the com­ple­tion of the pro­grammes. Fund­ing in­cludes pay­ment of course fees, pro­vi­sion of re­sources, as well as pay­ment of ex­am­i­na­tion fees.

C. THE NA­TIONAL SCHOOL LEAV­ING CER­TIFI­CATE

The Na­tional School Leav­ing Cer­tifi­cate (NSLC) is in­tended to give schools the means for doc­u­ment­ing the growth and de­vel­op­ment of learn­ers' per­sonal qual­i­ties over the du­ra­tion of their years in high school. It will be com­ple­men­tary to all exit ex­am­i­na­tions, and the two of these to­gether will of­fer em­ploy­ers a more bal­anced pic­ture of the qual­i­ties grad­u­ates possess when they leave se­condary school at the end of Grade 13.

The NSLC will be awarded af­ter stu­dents have com­pleted seven years at se­condary school. This will qual­ify stu­dents to move into ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions or into the world of work. An added ben­e­fit is that stu­dents en­ter­ing the ter­tiary sys­tem to pur­sue de­grees may be able to ac­cess ex­emp­tions through cred­its that will be ob­tained at the grade 13 level once they com­plete an as­so­ci­ate de­gree and will only need two ad­di­tional years to com­plete their bach­e­lor's de­gree.

The NSLC will now be­come the gen­eral exit cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for stu­dents leav­ing the se­condary level. No longer will the stu­dents rely only on the min­i­mum re­quire­ment of five sub­jects to leave the se­condary level. While exit ex­am­i­na­tions will still be done, the doc­u­mented grades and be­havioural in­for­ma­tion cap­tured on the cer­tifi­cate and rated based on stan­dards will pro­vide the stu­dents with the qual­i­fi­ca­tion to move to the next level.

The NSLC will be­come the na­tional min­i­mum stan­dard at the grade 13 level. Stu­dents will be en­cour­aged to com­plete var­i­ous pro­fes­sional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion (stack­able cre­den­tials) lead­ing to an as­so­ci­ate de­gree. This will al­low for greater ac­cess into the world of work and ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

All stu­dents will be en­cour­aged to com­plete seven years at the se­condary level. For those who may need to exit af­ter five years, their level of at­tain­ment will be as­sessed, and a tran­script at any level of the se­condary sys­tem will be pro­vided. The Na­tional Cer­tifi­cate at the grade 13 level will be the min­i­mum stan­dard to exit the se­condary level. It must be noted that stu­dents will con­tinue to be en­cour­aged to per­form. The qual­i­fi­ca­tion they at­tain, how­ever, should be de­pen­dent on the path­way they are pur­su­ing.

All ter­tiary-level stu­dents will be en­cour­aged to utilise the Na­tional Qual­i­fi­ca­tion Frame­work (NQF) to de­ter­mine equiv­a­len­cies for stu­dents to move into their ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions. The NQF will also be crit­i­cal for use by em­ploy­ers to de­ter­mine the level at which stu­dents can be em­ployed as they en­ter the world of work. This is be­ing pi­loted in 20 schools for full im­ple­men­ta­tion in the next school year.

We note, too, the ref­er­ences to tu­ition and aux­il­iary fee pol­icy. Not­with­stand­ing the re­peated claims in The Gleaner's ed­i­to­rial col­umns, a proper anal­y­sis of the change in pol­icy by the min­istry would re­veal that the vast ma­jor­ity of schools are bet­ter funded and have been op­er­at­ing more ef­fi­ciently than un­der the pre­vi­ous ar­range­ments, which saw stu­dents be­ing pe­nalised for their par­ents' in­abil­ity to pay the fees de­manded by schools.

There is noth­ing in the Gov­ern­ment's pol­icy that pre­cludes more par­ents from mak­ing vol­un­tary fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions to the op­er­a­tions of their chil­dren's schools if re­quested.

Colin Steer is di­rec­tor, cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Youth and In­for­ma­tion. Email feed­back to col­[email protected]­erjm.com and [email protected]

I

RU­DOLPH BROWN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Kyel-Ai­den Fos­ter presents a bas­ket of pro­duce to Se­na­tor Ruel Reid, min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion, youth and in­for­ma­tion, at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the new build­ing for the New For­est In­fant School in Manch­ester on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 29, 2018.

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