THE senior advisor to the country's education minister is asserting that poor student performance over the past decade should be attributed to what he described as a considerable decline in teaching standards.
According to Franklin Johnston, Jamaica's education system has been underperforming for years.
His comments come in the wake of a report from the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), a think tank that promotes evidence-based policy dialogue within the region, highlighting weaknesses in Jamaica's education sector.
CaPRI, in a document released last week, argued that while Jamaica has built a good educational foundation for its youth, the country does not meet international standards of excellence.
"We have failed to deliver quality education for a lot of our students. The job of being a teacher is crucial," Johnston said as he addressed the Jamaica Observer Eastern Region Teachers' Awards Luncheon held on Friday at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue head office.
"Measures are being put in place to ensure that every child in grade one has literacy in English Language and numeracy. Therefore, I challenge every teacher to take their best shot at achieving this," he said as he highlighted the fact that early childhood education, especially, deserves serious attention.
Johnson added that the private sector must play a major role in the efforts to raise standards. He praised the initiative by the Jamaica Observer and urged the country's teachers to make use of the opportunity.
The Observer has played an active role in supporting the nation's education system through the TeenAGE Observer, GSAT and CXC Study Centre, among other educational initiatives.
Meanwhile, Managing Director of the Jamaica Observer Danville Walker used the opportunity to emphasise the importance of a solid education and noted that education represents one of the clearest paths from poverty to the middle class.
"The norm is that most of the youths who indulge in criminal activities are the ones who are uneducated. Ignorance and education don't work well together," Walker told the gathering.