What is the confusion about PEP?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
This is an open letter to Education Minister Ruel Reid.
As a retired education practitioner and teacher/mentor of 41years (England, Jamaica, USA), I am desperately trying to understand what seems to be the confusion and concerns of some of our teachers regarding the roll-out of the PEP (Primary Exit Profile).
No matter the system, my experience has taught me the wisdom of attending to the concerns of teachers, the ones in the trenches. Too often this is not so, and as a result, precious time is wasted in running workshops during the school year as things 'pop up'. This is tantamount to 'flying the plane' whilst building it. Of course, I understand that inherent in change is a need for timely programme review and fine-tuning.
There is one thing coming from some of our teachers re PEP that has me slightly alarmed. Why is there the constant referencing of critical thinking, almost as if it were a new concept to be introduced to our students? Should I not assume that this concept is already included in the National School Curriculum (NSC)? Haven't teachers and students been working and practising this skill throughout the school year?
I have read where you confirm that the PEP fully supports the NSC. I, therefore, assume that relevant workshops have already been done, with refreshers during the summers. With this move towards a more rigorous assessment, carefully scaffolded concepts and skills must be delivered daily in every classroom. Hasn't this been the case? Did the high-stakes testing - GSAT, etc, push teachers into teaching too much to the test? Is this perhaps one of the reasons for some of the 'panic'? How involved have teachers from all over the island been in the creation of PEP items?
Bring stakeholders into the loop
That said, I sincerely hope that as you go forward, parents and other stakeholders are not left out of the loop. Kudos to you for launching your islandwide parent sensitization sessions, as it is certainly a great start and I look forward to the event in my community.
May I take time to also suggest that the Ministry of Education's website be improved to serve us in much the same way as your upcoming sessions. Please let it be a true conduit, easily accessible, with professionals in your ministry ready to respond to stakeholder concerns.
And so, sir, as we begin the new school year, I look forward to hearing more about the PEP and the NSC. In fact, I look forward to seeing you, sir, with your sleeves rolled up, working elbow to elbow in a classroom with our teachers, quelling their doubts and calming their fears.
Cert Ed, BEd, MAT