Sat | Jan 21, 2017

Parent teachers association supports GSAT push back

Published:Tuesday | March 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Everton Hannam

National PTA supports rescheduling of GSAT

The National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) has thrown its full support behind the Cabinet's decision to postpone the sitting of the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) by a week, because of the adverse effects of the fire at the Riverton City disposal site on students.

More than 35,000 students were scheduled to sit the examination on Thursday and Friday of this week. However, it will, instead, be administered on March 26 and 27.

The disclosure was made by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, who was speaking at a press conference that was held at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

Most feasible option

Everton Hannam, president of the NPTAJ, said the decision was the most feasible option at this time. He has asked parents and children who were not affected to be patient.

"We see no other option at this time and we support the ministry's decision. I would, however, urge the relevant authorities to ensure that resources and other agencies are managed properly so as not to allow a repeat of these incidents, which would inconvenience critical sectors such as education. We can't afford it," he said.

"I also make an appeal to parents to find avenues to keep their children relaxed. Now is not the time to cause additional anxiety. Instead, be there for the students and provide as much support at this time," he urged.

The disturbance of the exam follows an ongoing fire and accompanying smog at the dump in Kingston, which started last Wednesday, forcing the closure of some schools and businesses.

Thwaites, noted that one of the factors that contributed to the decision, was the fact that of the 38,470 students scheduled to sit the examination, 11,675 were within the areas affected by the fire, which involves 241 schools in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine.

"The overarching principle submitted for Cabinet's deliberation was to ensure equity," he told the press briefing.

"Given the uncertainty of the smoke nuisance, it would be difficult to go ahead and keep the original dates for the exam. Potentially, the adverse conditions could shift based on wind movement and disrupt the examination while in progress," he said.

He added, "Parents and children in the parishes outside of Kingston and St Andrew and St Catherine might not fully appreciate the decision. However, we ask that consideration be given to everyone to ensure that our children are given the fairest opportunity to sit and maximise their performance on the exams."

Relocation not possible

According to the ministry, the other two options would have been to relocate to other centres, which would involve finding venues that are suitable for some 11,000 students, in addition to administering the examination twice. The ministry did not have the capacity to implement the second option.

In the meantime, Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Errol Mowatt, is forecasting that the blaze at the Riverton site, should be extinguished by weekend.

"We can safely say that the fire is contained and we are in a better position than we were last week. We are confident that as long as the resources there today remain operable, we will extinguish this by the weekend," Mowatt said.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com