Parents shelling out up to $3,000 to process requests to move their children into 'name brand schools'Friday, July 23, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
DAYS after the Ministry of Education disclosed where students were placed based on their performance in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP), scores of parents have embarked on the seemingly annual ritual of trying to get their children into 'name brand' secondary schools.
The ministry had announced that 31,479, or 84.44 per cent of students who sat the PEP exam this year were placed in one of their preferred schools but that has not stopped parents from seeking transfers at some traditional secondary schools, which reported that they have already issued all their transfer application forms.
Reports indicate the parents are paying some schools between $2,000 and $3,000 for copies of the application forms well aware that their child stands only a slim chance of being accepted.
Principal of the Corporate Area-based St Andrew High School for Girls, Keeva Ingram, told the Jamaica Observer that all 240 transfer applications forms which the school had prepared were handed out within minutes of the process opening on Monday.
“Of course, it wasn't any different. Every year there is a rush. We did what we normally do. That has not changed. Persons came here as early as 5:30 am. We said we would issue the forms at 12:00 pm, but when I saw the crowd out there at 11:30 am, we just had to start giving them out,” said Ingram.
She said while her school does not charge for processing transfers, she understands why some schools would demand a fee as, “there is a process you have to go through [with] the application forms. It takes time, resources, and personnel for classification of applicants.”
Commenting on the possibility that majority of the students who apply for transfers will not be accepted, Ingram admitted that only a mere percentage of the cohort for transfers will be selected.
“As I understand, you get five per cent of your cohort that the school can allocate for transfers. My cohort is 240, so it's five per cent of that cohort. But, people transfer out, so you'll have more spaces. Some persons who are placed here want to go to other schools, or want to migrate, which would make more spaces available,” argued Ingram.
Nadine Molloy, principal at Ardenne High School, also agreed that the rush for transfers this year is the same as it has always been.
“We deal with it every year,” Molloy told the Observer, as she indicated that at her school, the transfer application process is handled online.
“We don't take calls regarding transfers. We have an online application process where you state your case, we make the review and then we [will see if] we can accommodate a few transfers,” said Molloy.
At St George's College, Principal Margaret Campbell said there were not a lot of requests for transfers as yet, considering the time the PEP results were announced.
“We wouldn't normally have a rush so early, but we have had a few requests so far. They got the grades on Friday, and we, like most high schools, would have transfer application forms online. The parents would get documents together such as recommendations from their children's schools and final reports,” said Campbell who is anticipating more requests for transfers going forward.
“Certainly, we should see more parents coming in. We only have a limited amount of spaces but as schools take transfers, there are transfers out. We are very clear though, we put information regarding transfers on our website and we put up signs at the bursar that the spaces are limited, as we are looking for a particular level of passes,” said Campbell.
The PEP results were announced by Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams last Friday.
At that time Williams said in addition to the students who were placed in one of the schools, they selected a further 4,315 or 11.58 per cent were placed in secondary schools that are in proximity to the schools they currently attend.
She said a further 2.09 per cent or 778 of students were placed manually in secondary schools in proximity to the address they submitted at registration.
“Even though the tests and/or components used to place students have changed over the past three years, the mechanism used to place students remains the same. We are, therefore, confident that even in this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, the method used to place students this year is fair, reliable and consistent with what previously existed,” said Williams.
The placement score for this year was based on the Grade Four Literacy, Grade Four Numeracy, Grade Four PEP Performance Task in Mathematics; Grade Four PEP Performance Task in Science, which the students had done two years ago, and the Grade Six Ability Test which they sat this year.
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