Manchester Language Arts Centre to support PEP prep

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Manchester Language Arts Centre to support PEP prep

BY JONATHAN MORRISON
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 27, 2020

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The Region 5 office of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, which serves the parishes of St Elizabeth and Manchester, has launched a Language Arts Centre.

The centre, which is the brainchild of the Mandeville-based regional office's literacy team, has been established in partnership with the Manchester Parish Library, from which the centre will operate, in support of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) assessment.

Explaining the purposes of the Language Arts Centre, Aneita Bailey, community relations officer of Region 5, said the “initiative is a timely response to the numerous requests of grades 4 to 6 teachers for the relevant sources to support the themes of the Language Arts Curriculum... and seeks to address research skills — a major weakness identified”.

Guest speaker at the recent ceremony to mark the opening of the Language Arts Centre was deputy chief education officer in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr Clover Hamilton Flowers, who has responsibility for the ministry's Curriculum and Support Services.

Addressing the gathering of educators, parents and students from several primary schools and other private learning institutions in Manchester, she reiterated the role of PEP as a basic component of the Government's national education reform programme.

The senior education administrator told her audience that a fundamental feature of the PEP curriculum is a strategy that seeks to develop students' capacity for critical thinking. The PEP curriculum, therefore, focuses on improving research skills and problem-solving methods that relate to real life and everyday experiences with which students can identify.

The Language Arts Centre is open to students, parents and teachers who can benefit from books, other reading material, and guidance from educators. The project has found support from stakeholders in education, publishers LMH, Carlong, Literacy Links, and Book Zone, which have contributed reading material or have given commitments to make donations. Also supplying books to the centre is Councillor Jones Oliphant (People's National Party, Mandeville Division) who was on hand recently to make his contribution.

PEP replaced the former high school placement exam, Grade Six Achievement Test, last year, amid some controversy as to the preparedness of teachers and students to handle new concepts in the approach to learning, embodied in the three stages of the PEP assessment.

Last year's inaugural sitting, which had more than 40,000 students registered for the assessment, was preceded by a PEP mock exam the year before, the results of which, though set on only one of the three stages of the actual assessment, were not seen as encouraging. So, too, were the results of the actual assessment in 2019, which were considered disappointing, with 40 per cent of students not achieving the competency levels.


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