Parents targeted under pilot project to improve math scores

News post September 24, 2015


KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – The Ministry of Education yesterday launched a pilot project to determine how mathematics training for parents can improve the performance of students in grades one and two.

The two-year project will be administered in May Pen and surrounding communities in Clarendon and will impact some 1,600 households. Training for parents will be carried out through partnership with researchers from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

This initiative, being undertaken through support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Embassy of Japan, aims to ramp up teaching and learning outcomes in mathematics, said Education Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites at the launch held at his Heroes Circle office.

The expectation is that the initiative will enable the country to achieve the target of 85 per cent mastery of numeracy in the Grade Four Numeracy Test. The target date has pushed back from 2015 to 2018. This year, students achieved 65.7 per cent mastery in numeracy, which is an 8.1 per cent increase over last year.

“We welcome the project. Parents are a critical group whose buy-in is essential to the attitudes children adopt towards the learning of mathematics. We believe that if parents lose their phobia and ignorance of mathematics, they are likely to encourage their children to do the subject and assist them in doing their schoolwork,” Rev Thwaites noted.

The project is to determine what mode of engagement works best for the mentoring of the parents towards improvement in the teaching and learning of mathematics for students.

Coaches and trainers will be identified to work with parents, who will be drawn from beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).

National Numeracy Coordinator, Dr Tamika Benjamin, said resources will be developed to guide interactions with parents through workshops and home visits, using material distributed under the National Comprehensive Numeracy Programme (NCNP).

The NCNP has provided schools with a series of books focused on teaching and learning in the classroom, problem solving and putting mathematics in the family life.

“It basically provides a list of activities for parents from grade one up to six, with games and activities they could use in everyday life to engage their children and to deepen their learning and understanding and appreciation of mathematics. We are happy that the project leaders from Southern Methodist University will be enriching what we have already developed and using it to help our parents,” Benjamin said.

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