Education ministry ‘TRENDing’ toward brighter tomorrow

In what could be described as a step on the road to greater collaboration in education, parents, educators, and students gathered last Thursday to discuss the transformative potential of the Ministry of Education and Youth’s (MoEY) initiative dubbed TREND — Transforming Education for National Development.

The town hall meeting, which was held at Jamaica College auditorium in St Andrew, was the first major event in TREND’s comprehensive public education campaign.

“The ministry has been making significant investments to modernise and improve the delivery of education services and enhance the learning outcomes of Jamaican students,” noted Minister of Education Fayval Williams. “We are already on the journey to transformation. The last time the oversight committee reported, we could say that 20 per cent of those recommendations were underway, and that is no small task. It’s now time to get all Jamaicans on board, to ensure that our people understand the work that’s ongoing and play their part in transformation.”

Pointing to TREND’s “seven pillars of change”, Williams said the road map for transformation had been established based on the Patterson Report of 2021 and public support was key to its success.

“From modernising governance, early childhood education, and curriculum development to expanding tertiary education and enhancing TVET facilities, we diligently work to equip our students with cutting-edge infrastructure and technology. We also recognise the need to adapt our funding formula to support schools with unique needs better. This ambitious initiative is a testament to our dedication to building a brighter, technology-driven future for Jamaican education,” she said.

The TREND town hall meeting featured an engaging panel discussion moderated by Dr Terri-Karelle Reid, exploring how people perceive transformation and the role of stakeholders in achieving improved educational outcomes. Contributors in the discussion included the MOEY’s Permanent Secretary Dr Kasan Troupe, president of the National Parent Teachers’ Association of Jamaica, Stewart Jacobs, president of the National Secondary Students Council, Cavan Lewis, chief executive officer of the National Parenting Support Commission, Kaysia Kerr, and president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, Leighton Johnson.

Chairman of the Education Transformation Oversight Committee (ETOC), Dr Adrian Stokes congratulated the MOEY for launching the public education campaign and noted the importance of sustaining collaboration among stakeholders.

“Change is difficult, and something as far-reaching as transforming our education system is a very demanding piece of work,” Dr Stokes said. “Transformation requires several deliberate and consistent steps to be successful. Importantly, it requires strategic alignment; everyone agreeing on the big goal of drastically improving educational outcomes in Jamaica. We will be successful if all stakeholders are trying to turn the flywheel in the same direction. We know it is much easier to get a full revolution of the flywheel if all parties are pushing in the same direction. Once the flywheel gets going, momentum takes over, and transformation takes hold in a real way. The opposite is true. If stakeholders are pulling or trying to turn the flywheel with opposing forces, then we are doomed. Transformation never really gets going, and momentum is never achieved.”

The TREND campaign theme, ‘For a Brighter Tomorrow,’ symbolises the MOEY’s vision to reshape the educational landscape, providing equitable access to quality education and resources for every youth in the nation, the ministry said.

Guided by the 365 recommendations from the Patterson Report, TREND aspires to usher in an era of educational excellence, from the early childhood sector to tertiary-level learning. The programme focuses on the seven pillars of change — governance and accountability; early childhood education; teaching, curriculum, and teacher training; the tertiary sector; TVET (technical and vocational education and training); infrastructure and technology; and finance.

In addition to a current media campaign with commercials on radio, television and in print, the TREND campaign will continue into next year with school-based activities including a series of pop-ups, the first of which is scheduled for November 7 at St Andrew Technical High School, in Kingston.