Letters to the Editor

Slip of the tongue, Minister?

Thursday, June 21, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

The current administration has always been one that prides itself where academia is concerned and speaks to better education for the nation: "Every child can learn, every child must learn".

The GSAT was started in 1998 or thereabouts by the then PNP administration and seemingly endorsed by the Opposition. For some 14 years or so there was no strong opposition to the GSAT by our Opposition party or Mr Holness, and for the period 2007 to 2011 no initiative was set to "abolish" GSAT.

I wonder with great concern if we are cowering under fear for entering, albeit seemingly late, a place where our young minds are challenged from very early for excellence. Experts, I'm sure, will tell us that the capacity of students at the GSAT age are well able to manage.

I believe if one child can handle GSAT, then with the right conditions in place other children can handle it as well. So is it that we are bowing out of a good thing from "fear". Are we not guilty of not engendering a posture of excellence, which is enhanced by an ethics communicated by our proverb, "If yuh waan gud yuh nose haffi run"?

Whenever it comes around to football World Cup there is always an expectancy of a 16-year-old star from Brazil. Is this as a result of the premium they place on the sport? For years we pull our hair about low performance in our primary and secondary education system. Is 14 years adequate time to test an assessment tool? I wonder what former education ministers, Mrs Maxine Henry Wilson and Mr Andrew Holness, had to say when they were consulted about this "abolition"?

So the GSAT has "wreaked fear and trauma among parents and children alike". So the exam "robs children of much extra-curricular life" and "crams their head with excess material they will never use".

Isn't this statement the irony of the century given the expressions of the minister as in the Jamaica Observer of June 20, 2012: "It is interesting to note that the results... have shown improvements in the national average for each subject". Oops, a slip of the tongue? "The effect is that schools will be receiving better-performing students who are better prepared for secondary education". Oops slip, slip, slip of the tongue!

Isn't this the intended result of the GSAT? Isn't it true that more parents are involved more in their children's schoolwork? Isn't this a good thing - school and home educating the nation? Our nation's education must not be left to a few exuberant minds to "wreak" havoc of it. If it's not broken, "lef it".

D Ferguson

dferguson2117@yahoo.com

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