THE OBSERVER: THE Government’s plan to phase out junior high schools continues as it develops its Alternative Pathway for Secondary Education (APSE) programme, which will allow students more time to gain relevant certification.
There are 84 junior high schools left in the island.
Under the APSE programme, students who learn at a slower pace will advance to high school but will be taught a parallel curriculum at their level.
“We said what we want is to remove junior high schools. So what will happen is that if you remove junior high, then everybody will be placed in a full secondary school at the end of grade six. The alternative pathway is going to develop the capacity where you have an inclusive education system,” Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid told Jamaica Observer reporters and editors yesterday at the newspaper’s weekly Monday Exchange.
“So generally, they are in the same class but they require special intervention. This is a model; it’s the new, emerging thing in the education circle,” Reid said.
Added to that, the education minister explained that a widespread criticism of his ministry is that teachers are not properly trained to identify students with special needs in order to customise a learning approach.
“So my emphasis, of course, is differentiated instruction and the whole concept of the alternative pathway to secondary education was to ensure that we have a seamless structure where we can reach all our learners.
“Primarily, we are holding back a number of students from the grade four diagnostic under the ASTEP (Alternative Secondary Transitional Education Programme) …the literature globally now is what you call inclusive education, so [we] allow everybody to progress but they will have to get special and differentiated instructional arrangement,” Reid explained.
At the same time, the minister said from a developmental point of view, it is not “ideal” for students to leave high school at the age of 16 because some students “peak” late.
“The whole idea with the CAP (Career Advancement Programme) is to understand the dynamics that you will not always have every student achieving their desired objectives at grade 11 or age 16. So we have this alternative pathway programme that every student, as of this year, if you’re not going to sixth form there’s this alternative programme for you and we are going to take you from where you are to as high as the sky...
“The Ministry of Education is focused on delivering quality education at all levels, but we’re also ensuring that we leave no one behind,” said Reid.
Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator, Ruel Reid