Tue | Jan 18, 2022

Aretha P. Willie | PEP – Wheel and come again

Published:Sunday | March 31, 2019 | 12:00 AM

I have sufficient anecdotal ­evidence to comment and make ­suggestions on the Primary Exit Profile (PEP), even without the perks of being a Ministry of Education consultant, or better yet, without the fear of being muzzled!

Thursday ended the second ­component of PEP – the Performance Task; and within another three weeks the students will be sitting the last leg – the Curriculum Based Tests.

Test pon top a test! Imagine three components over three months, and totalling five days. Clearly, these must be tests of endurance!

Many teachers have shared their struggles of getting their charges to refocus, after the first sitting in February. Imagine now!

Thus, PEP in its current form is untenable. Teachers should NOT be allowed to invigilate their own students. The bond between teacher and student at the primary level is an extraordinary one. This emotional investment posed a clear challenge for many last week, as they watched their ‘special’ students making mistakes, without the usual luxury of recalibrating their directions.

Historically, the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) was completed within the third week of March, which would signal the end of extra lessons for many sacrificial parents. Not so with PEP, as parents will have to continue to dig deeper to facilitate another month of payments. Extra lessons are viewed as a necessary evil for many parents, as they compete for their children to attend the ‘premium’ high schools.

While I support the introduction of the National Standard Curriculum (NSC); the breadth and depth of the content, and assessment is questionable. Yes, we are desirous of nurturing critical thinkers, versed in the four Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity), but we need to weigh the balance carefully, in favour of them.

There were many positives in the administration of GSAT. Why not continue to employ external invigilators to maintain transparency and integrity? Why not schedule the exams to last for three days during the first week in April? Why not revisit the content and assessment format of the NSC? Why not make education more equitable so that extra lessons can be a thing of the past?

The focus MUST be on our children. And as contributors to Jamaica’s future, we must be willing to engage, and where found ­wanting; wheel and come again!!


Aretha P. Willie is the Principal of George Headley Primary School and a PEP parent. Email feedback to arethawillie.ghps@hotmail.com and columns@gleanerjm.com