Limited number of answer sheets causes chaos at some schools
Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer
Officials of the Ministry of Education have reported a successful first day's sitting of this year's Grade Six Achievement Test, despite a few glitches caused by a limited number of answer sheets at some schools islandwide.
The Gleaner understands that some schools experienced minutes of delay, which caused chaos at some institutions.
During an emergency press conference yesterday afternoon, the ministry indicated that only about one per cent of the 43,000 students who sat the examination were affected and the matter was resolved quickly.
But the issue did not go down lightly with the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), which demanded an explanation from the ministry about the matter.
"It is indeed unfortunate that poor planning has led to this and the blame can't be laid at the feet of the administrators alone," JTA President Nadine Molloy Young told The Gleaner.
"To have our children sitting the examination under these adverse conditions is certainly not a compliment to the ministry and so they really need to offer us a very good explanation and give an apology for this happening to the children," she added.
One of the affected schools is Holy Family Primary School.
"The children got a little jittery this morning that we had to calm them. Some students weren't given any booklets but there are two centres at the school and the invigilators worked among themselves," principal of the institution, Cecile Palmer, said.
She added that the issue affected both the morning and afternoon sessions of the examination.
"I am very tense because I am afraid this will affect the students. The exam itself is already stressful, so we shouldn't have put them under this stress," the obviously angry principal argued.
There was a similar issue at Dunrobin and Excelsior primary schools.
"We have had a very successful day. It is the first year that we are implementing the Competence Based Transition Policy and we have expected that there would have been a few hiccups as it relates to students who have never done the Grade Four Literacy Test as well as issues relating to the transfers and issues relating to the non-registration of students," the chief education officer at the ministry, Grace McLean, said.
In an effort to allay the fears parents may be having, Education Minister Andrew Holness said there was no need for them to worry as all eligible students would get their papers marked.
"Many of the cases would be those cases where there weren't any checking against the register or coming back to the ministry to say here is a student that we did not receive a timetable for and so they turn up at the centre and we had to resolve them as we go," the minister added.
He said the ministry was prepared for most of the cases and, as a result, it was able to provide the necessary support that was required at the various centres.
After sitting mathematics and social-studies examinations yesterday, students will today sit language arts, communication task and science.