Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Home-schooled sisters, nine and 11, earn distinctions in City & Guild exams

Published:Friday | September 8, 2023 | 12:06 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Marva Duncanson (centre), City and Guilds country manager, with Kara Hannigan (left) and her sister Imani Hannigan.
Marva Duncanson (centre), City and Guilds country manager, with Kara Hannigan (left) and her sister Imani Hannigan.
Dr Jennice Baker-Hannigan and her daughters, Imani (left) and Kara.
Dr Jennice Baker-Hannigan and her daughters, Imani (left) and Kara.
Sisters, Imani Hannigan (left) and Kara Hannigan, JCDC gold medallists in dance, striking a winning pose.
Sisters, Imani Hannigan (left) and Kara Hannigan, JCDC gold medallists in dance, striking a winning pose.
Imani Hannigan sits in the exam room during the examinations, held at Distinction College in Kingston, while her sister Kara is in the background.
Imani Hannigan sits in the exam room during the examinations, held at Distinction College in Kingston, while her sister Kara is in the background.
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HOME-SCHOOLED from birth, 11-year-old Imani Hannigan and sister Kara Hannigan, nine, have won several gold medals in Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC) dance competitions over the years, becoming a shining light for their parents, Elijah Hannigan and Dr Jennice Baker-Hannigan.

Currently, though, the entire family is basking as never before, as the academic brilliance of the two youngsters has lifted the family over the moon, following the release of City and Guilds’ June examination results.

Both Imani and Kara gained distinctions in City and Guilds Level 3 mathematics and Level 2 English skills, despite their young age. According to the City and Guild Website, Level 3 is equivalent to GCE A Levels and CAPE, while Level 2 is equivalent to GCE O Levels (grades A-C) and CSEC. City and Guilds exams are usually done at the high school level by fourth and fifth-form students, but the Hannigans defied the odds to score maximum grades in both subjects, having started preparing last September for the exams in June this year.

“I was ecstatic, to be frank,” Baker-Hannigan told The Gleaner. “Their dad was a little more tempered like he expected it.”

“As the mother, I kind of prepared myself for every outcome, but they (the children) believed that they were going to get distinctions. They told me they expected that, but you know, we tried to balance it, but they said, “No mommy, we’re getting distinction,” and I said, “All right.”

Passing the exams with distinction showed more than just academic brilliance, and points to a certain degree of maturity.

“I was actually most proud of them for setting a goal, working at it, doing what needed to be done, and executing it. So even if they didn’t get the outcome they wanted, the whole practice, the discipline, the focus, we, me and their father, in fact, were very pleased with that,” she explained.

The girls, modest in their speech, told The Gleaner that they expected the results they got and were really happy.

As self-employed parents, the Hannigans have to make a lot of sacrifices, but consider it a “great honour” to invest in their children.

Baker-Hannigan said the decision to do home-schooling seemed to have been a plan by God and has now proven to be the right move.

“I think home-schooling chose us. We believe this was our mandate from God himself, to be frank with you, and it was just a very good fit for the family. Our older daughter learned more with HEART and I felt that doing the traditional school system she may have fallen behind because she was not the quick reader, so to speak.”

Home-schooling comes with a lot of supplementary activities and extra-curricular activities, and as the girls grow older, the role of online tutoring becomes more of a necessity to broaden subject areas.

In terms of careers, the sisters have already indicated what they wish to do, knowing they could always change their minds because time is on their side.

“We try to have the children exposed so they can find their true strength; not what we want them to be, but what God made them to be and we try and draw that out of them.”

“Kara, she’s one of them old souls, she calls herself Judge Kara Hannigan, and she even has her own tag line, ‘Judge Kara Never Lies’, her mother explained.

“Imani is more of a creative; she makes videos, does graphic art, she likes dance, singing, that kind of thing. But you know children can change their minds at any time.”