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Ministry denies claims of GSAT problems

Published:Friday | February 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Education has rushed to dismiss claims that this year's sitting of the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) could be in trouble because of administrative problems.

The ministry was responding to concerns from Opposition Spokesman on Education, Senator Basil Waite, who yesterday alerted the nation to the fact that students registered to sit the GSAT have been asked to resubmit their birth certificates approximately one month before the exam.

"Given the sensitivity and importance of the GSAT examinations, the Government needs to give teachers, parents and guardians of students taking the exam, and the students themselves, clear assurance that they can be confident that the problems associated with the GSAT will be rectified promptly," Waite said in his mid-morning release.

Hours later the response came from the education ministry confirming that it had requested the resubmission of the birth certificates of students.

"The request was made as part of an initiative of the ministry to improve its processes," the release stated.

June 18 results

The education ministry added: "We assure parents and guardians that the reverification process will not affect the staging or administration of the GSAT, or the publication of the examination results."

The ministry also confirmed that the GSAT will be held on March 25-26 as previously announced and the results published on June 18, as scheduled.

"The education ministry wants it to be understood clearly that it is satisfied with the administrative and coordinating process associated with the GSAT," the release added.

"The ministry is well aware that GSAT is a critical examination and has a special place in the minds of Jamaicans. Therefore, we would advise all concerned to handle the matter of the GSAT carefully. Nothing should be done to jeopardise the successful staging of the examination."

But the release failed to satisfy Waite, who told
The Gleaner
that the notice sent out to schools claimed the request for the students to resubmit their birth certificates was because of a pilot programme.

"The Opposition understands that this systemic problem has come about because of the ministry's decision to change a tried, tested and proven registration system due to increased budgetary constraints," Waite claimed.

"A clear indication is required as to the strength of the administrative process in the ministry and the availability of funds to finance base elements of the education system, given the broader economic conditionalities imposed on the nation," added Waite.

The GSAT is used to place students from the primary to the secondary level.