Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, says there must be renewed emphasis on literacy and numeracy by the society, going forward, to ensure greater advancement of, and enhanced productivity within the nation.
"The deficit in our literacy scores has to be corrected as quickly as we can. Fifty and 60 per cent (of students) at Grade Four who master the English Language, is simply not adequate as a foundation, for all the other expensive learning that we lavish on our children," Rev. Thwaites said.
He was speaking at the 2012 Scholarship Awards ceremony of the JPS and Partners Co-operative Credit Union Limited, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on August 16.
The Minister lamented that the mistake is often made that the Jamaican language is a substitute for English, asserting that “it is not."
"English is the language of commerce; it is the language of professionalism; it is the language of employment opportunity, and of global citizenship. All of our children must learn to speak and to express themselves and to write English properly; and there can be no compromise in the Jamaican education system,” he emphasised.
Addressing numeracy, the Minister pointed out that Mathematics is the “gateway to Science, and Science is the prism through which development is taking place in the 21st Century."
Rev. Thwaites said it must no longer be "fashionable" for persons to simply say "but oh, I can’t do Maths you know, or Maths is boring." He pointed out that competence in Mathematics is a foundation for competence in all other areas of technical expertise, “and therefore, literacy and numeracy are non-negotiable pre-requisites for future citizenship, happiness and prosperity."
“While we laud our Olympians with every garland that we can think of and afford, I long for the day when Jamaica does as well in a Mathematics Olympiad or a literacy Olympiad or an Information Technology Olympiad as we did in the London Olympics,” The Minister said.