Teenage

Development needs continuity

TEENeditorial

Tuesday, January 17, 2012    

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WITH the recent landslide victory for the People's National Party (PNP) over the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which formed the government since 2007, there are inevitably plans for change.

But TEENage would like to offer a simple yet profound point of view — development needs continuity.

If, as a nation, we are to meet our Millenuim development goals, we cannot afford to throw the baby out with the bath water. We need to look on the systems, plans and interfaces that have the potential to work and continue plans.

There are many such systems and programmes that have been put in place by the JLP.

For example: the Career Advancement Programme (CAP) and Alternative Secondary Transitional Education Programme (ASTEP) and the wider reform process to the education system — such as establishing institutions such as the National Education Trust and seriously evaluating performance-based pay for teachers.

As reported by the Jamaica Observer on June 10, 2011: ASTEP was created for 6,200 children who have completed their years in primary school without having achieved mastery in the Grade Four Literacy Test (GFLT).

With each learning centre set to have a maximum of 25 students and specially-trained teachers, Ministry of Education officials are optimistic that the new programme will reduce the number of underfunctioning students entering the secondary school system.

"The programme should be very, very good because the reception from parents and the community at large is welcoming. They have been very anxious for an intervention of this kind for a long time and the students themselves are excited," said ASTEP co-ordinator Novlette Denton-Prince.

"There will be smaller classes in terms of the numbers in each class, we have specially-trained teachers assigned to these students. We have a specialised curriculum and continuous training for teachers aligned to the various teacher-training institutions in the country," she noted.

Previously, in 2010, the former government implemented the Child Health & Development Passport (CHDP) that will systematically manage children's overall health, development and well-being.

The passport will enable caregivers and policymakers to be able to track the health and development of children from birth in a comprehensive and holistic way as caregivers are required to take the passport along for every visit to every physician and every health worker to be updated.

With this intervention, health providers will have supporting information that will assist in knowing the present health status of the child and identify early any conditions that may be present.

The Child Health and Development Passport incorporates the World Health Organisation's growth charts, which the organisation describes as an essential tool to have as part of monitoring paediatric health. These charts help to determine whether the child may have physical needs for growth and development at every stage.

These combined with, health and nutrition indices, educational assessment tools and parenting tips can give the caregiver, the medical practitioner, the parent and the school administrator an idea of whether or not a child is developing in an acceptable manner, or whether specific intervention may be needed to put him or her back on track.

The CHDP will also contain immunisation records.

These programmes go a far way in mapping the progress our nation's youth.

Leaps in agriculture and moves to secure our food security are other policies that have shown promise.

Under the stewardship of Dr Christopher Tufton, the former minister of agriculture and fisheries strides have been made to inject entrepenuership in agriculture. The successful divestment of Jamaica's loss-making sugar assets, the creation of agro-processing facilities and even championing an expansion of greenhouse farming technology are but a few talking points.

TEENage would also like to put forward, in light of the assignment of ministers and members of the Cabinet two Fridays ago, we need to concretise the format of that system.

Simply put, make the ministries and positions stable.

In a time when money-saving opportunities should be grasped, the juggling of ministries can be quite expensive.

Imagine that every time there is juggling in the Cabinet, new stationery, crests and insignias have to be designed and distributed. And if the past administration is to be used as reference,there were three seperate Cabinet assignments.

Again, development needs continuity.

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