Career & Education

PEP is here to stay, Cumberland principal tells Mico students

Sunday, October 07, 2018

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Amidst the contention surrounding the implementation of the recently introduced high school placement exam called Primary Exit Profile (PEP), principal of Cumberland High School Darien Henry has appealed to student teachers at Mico University College to support the assessment programme.

Henry, a Mico graduate, was guest speaker at the institution's symbolic Matriculation Ceremony for incoming students on the Marescaux Road campus a week ago.

“Much has been said, for instance more recently, about the national examination for primary school students. I want The Mico and The Mico students to be front and centre of the public discourse [but] don't get caught up in the negativity; it's not bringing us anywhere.”

“[Instead,] I want for you to bring your voice of reason and your voice of leadership. PEP is here to stay. The country has to reboot its curriculum ever so often; if it doesn't it will get left behind and right now the discussion is, where does Jamaica stand in future economic development? Teachers, you have a (role) to play, so I don't want you to get caught up in the negatives about PEP. PEP has to be,” he said.

PEP, the successor of Grade Six Achievement Test, has three components — Performance Task, Ability Test and Curriculum-based Test — and according to the Ministry of Education, is designed to build students' critical thinking skills. The Performance Task component was previously scheduled for December this year, with the others scheduled for February and April 2019. However, Education Minister Ruel Reid announced last week that the first component has been rescheduled for March 2019. The move, he said, was a concession to the JTA which has been vocal about teachers' lack of preparation to effectively prepare their students in the short time frame.

Meanwhile, Henry, who recounted experiences of a principal who he said lost 13 teachers in one year and another who described principals as 'harbour sharks' in the search for teachers, issued an appeal to the teachers in training, urging them not to migrate for better paying jobs overseas, but instead to stay and build the country.

“Remain in your country to advance the future of your country. I'm going to plead with you, especially you first-years as you prepare to take on the mantle of what pedagogy is all about. Stay and build your country,” he urged.

Building on that point, the Cumberland High School principal said while it is true that teachers are not well paid, the problem is not inimical to Jamaica. Further, he stressed that remuneration should not be the primary motivator for any teacher.

“If you are going into teaching because you want to make money, it is the wrong profession. But if you go into teaching with a burning passion and fire and a thirst for knowledge and a thirst for developing our country, teaching is where you belong.”

In his address to the matriculants, Henry also batted for more men in the profession, arguing that the country needs it.

“There needs to be far greater incentives to get more, strong, intelligent, bold men in teaching. That is how we are going to make that strong impact on our country,” he told them.

Henry wrapped up his presentation by charging the student teachers to become distinguished members of the educational community and to stay true to their purpose as teachers.

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