Education Minister: Jamaican Students Must Be Fluent in English

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - November 11, 2012

Above: Jamaica Education Minister Ronald Thwaites

By the Caribbean Journal staff

English is the language of professionalism, science and commerce, and Jamaican students must be fluent in the language, according to Education Minister Ronald Thwaites.

“There can be absolutely no compromise about this, and teachers, and those of us who are engaged in promoting education, must learn to be fluent in English and must instruct in English in order that, even if we use our own native language, it must be used as a tool to the English language and not as a substitute therefore,” Thwaites said.

The Minister said the country must put a renewed focus on literacy in order to ensure the “advancement of the nation’s future leaders.”

“The deficit in literacy and the decline of the habit of reading are, in fact, the major cramps to the outcomes and advances of education in Jamaica and by derivation the development of both of the human capital and indeed, the economic fortunes of our nation,” he said. “Let us get it clear — education is the number one investment that any nation can undertake.”

Thwaites, who was speaking at the official launch of the Jamaica Reading Association’s Literacy Conference, said fluency was critical for Jamaica’s progress.

“We believe that if can only “buss” a tune, or if we can wiggle down a catwalk or sometimes people believe that if they can figure out the intricacies of the lottery scam, somehow you can get ahead in life, and it doesn’t really matter if you can read or write,” he said.

He urged parents to “get it right from the earliest stages.”

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