Mon | Dec 9, 2019

Gordon Robinson | Profiles in education? Or dyspepsia?

Published:Tuesday | April 16, 2019 | 12:15 AM

So, what I knew as Common Entrance became the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and is now the Primary Exit Profile (PEP).

LOL! Based on language (not usually featured locally), we began 62 years ago with a pass/fail attempt to place all in secondary school. When that proved dicey, Government shifted, in 1999, to allocate spaces based on 10-year-olds’ “achievements”.

How’d that work out?

Outcomes have included:

- Pollsters who respond to questions with “I’m not quite sure”. Are you not? How sure are you exactly?

- Radio producers who put together catchy jingles for my favourite music show ‘The Mayor’s Parlour’ like ‘You’re listening to a cover version’. DWL! What else would a ‘cover’ be?

- My favourite secondary school survivor, namely the TVJ reporter, with what looked like a script in hand, who reported on the South East St Elizabeth pollution problems: “The issues down there is very, very bad.”

There goes my pirate with parrot on his shoulder again. Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

So, now, the education ministry wants to discover 10-year-olds’ “profiles” to be able to select their secondary school.

Has any secondary school’s curricula changed? Have secondary school teachers’ qualifications evolved to allow teaching differing “profiles” to adjust to real life? Has primary education developed these profiles? Or are we still teaching the “three Rs” by rote: rolling dice at age 10 to see which secondary school will accept which of the 10-year-olds and then offering tertiary education to those who can afford exorbitant fees regardless of “profile”?

The education ministry says that PEP is the answer to finding individually compatible secondary education. PEP’s “Vision” as published by the ministry:

- Things and times have changed…….

- Our young people need to be well prepared for the challenges and opportunities in these times and those they will meet in their adulthood.

- The curriculum has changed to reflect a greater focus on concepts, skills, and competencies.

So I took a look at some sample PEP exam questions to locate these new “concepts”, “skills”, and “competencies” being taught.

Pencils and paper please:

“You are the captain of your school’s basketball team.”

’Oll aan! Me tu’n off arready becausen mi no know ’ow many primary school students play basketball or become captain of anything. THIS mek dem “well prepared for the challenges and opportunities .” they’ll meet in adulthood?

Anyway, we read on.

“Your coach has asked you to help him to decide which player will be better able to help the team win an important match.”

Me ’tap read again! Ah which coach dat? Stage coach? No coach nah do dat! Plus, it’s an impossible ask.

Anyhoooo, a stats table followed, then the embarrassing error was repeated:

“A. Which player will better improve the team’s chances of winning?

B. Explain why you have chosen that player.”

Me, Teacher! Mi will tell yu when yu len’ me di crystal ball that neva come wid di exam paper. Becausen mi cawn’t tell you which player WILL do anyt’ing widdout dat.

The most priceless “sample” question came in language arts:

“Read the sentence below and answer Questions 1 and 2.”

The Principal, Ms Kennedy, and the chairman, were at the meeting.

1. How many persons were at the meeting?

2. Justify your answer.”

Me again, Teacher. My answer: “kiss mi neck! Blouse an’ skirt. Pants an’ shirt! ’Ow mi fi know ’ow many at di meeting? Yu neva sey dem was di ONGLE people dere. Is wha’ yu tek mi fa?”

LANGUAGE arts? ROFL!

So, what’s my profile? Mi head t’ick? Or is dis PEP t’ick? Obviously, PEP is all about “Exit” not “Profile”. Government put PEP in 10-year-olds’ steps to hustle them out of primary school. No secondary school changed. Highest scores earn exit strategy to Campion or Immaculate. Others enter a lotto draw to PEP up and step up inna life.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Peace and love!

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.