THE CURRICULUM IN JAMAICAN SCHOOLS
It is found that the curriculum in Jamaican schools “mirror”ť the curriculum in the schools of Great Britain. However, today there are some changes in the curricular development in Jamaica. These changes are focused on the needs of the country as the ex-colony and the development of the educational system. The major goal of these changes is “to enhance the knowledge, skills, and values which can help students to live more productive lives in their own societies”ť (Jamaican Education System: Overview, 2012, para.3).
The modernization of education system and curricular development in Jamaica are closely connected with “economic and development pressures that require higher levels and standards of literacy and mathematical skills among the citizenry”ť (Jamaican Education System: Overview, 2012, para.4). It is known that in recent years the Ministry of Education has developed the effective strategies in order to rationalize the curriculum at primary and secondary levels. The major goal is to respond to the needs of modern society and to improve access to the secondary-level schools in Jamaica. According to the Ministry of Education, the main responsibility ofÂ the Curriculum and Assessment Agency is to integrate the functions of curriculum and assessment in Jamaican schools in order “to design new curriculum approaches and strengthen the existing national curriculum and associated assessments, tests and examinations”ť (Ministry of Education: Modernization, 2007, p.2).
SOME COMMON WEAKNESSES IN IN THE CURRICULUM
There are some common weaknesses in the curriculum in Jamaican schools. They include lack of the highly-qualified specialists for effective schools, who can develop and practise new methods of teaching, and serious problems with textbooks in Jamaican schools. It is known that many parents in Jamaica have no opportunity to buy very expensive textbooks for their children, and many students have to finish schools without textbooks. This leads to the decline in the student’s performance and school achievements, as well as to “the increase in absentee and dropout rates and decline in literacy”ť (Jamaican Education System: Overview, 2012, para.5).
SOME IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
It is recommended to provide continuous assessment of students at the primary level of education in order to facilitate teaching and learning processes, to design the appropriate school environment for effective learning process and “to divide students along pass/fail lines”ť (Education: the Way Upward, 2001, p.1). In addition, it is recommended to include computerized learning programs in school curriculum. Computers will help to get students interested in the curriculum. Moreover, it is recommended to refer to the psychology of children in the process of the curriculum development in order to implement some proper innovations, such as games, team working, etc.
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that leadership, teaching and learning and the curriculum are considered to be the key input factors in effective schools. They have enormous impact on the quality of education and students’ achievements. In Jamaica, the curriculum, as one of the key factors in effective schools, is not perfect. It required improvements and innovations in order to comply with the world standard. It is recommended to include new computerized learning programs, to provide all students with textbooks and to pay attention to the psychological approach in teaching and learning processes in all Jamaican schools.