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Ruel Reid is correct

Published:Friday | March 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor,

Congratulations to Ruel Reid on his perceptive overview of learning verification options for Jamaican students in
The Gleaner
of March 3. His pioneering and valiant work at Jamaica College is admired greatly.

As the director of the only school on the island that teaches the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) Reid mentioned, I can give witness to the broad range of students served by this programme. The flexibility of choices and levels for students is coupled with the rigorous standards and trustworthy history of the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) board.

Teachers of IGCSE courses become true facilitators of learning. Advanced and highly talented students are well served in the large selection of courses available to them. Critical thinking skills can effectively be fostered. Students with special learning challenges also find many opportunities for success, especially in view of the scaled marking system Reid referred to so clearly. It is now our only grade 11 external examination system.

However, we at Hillel Academy chose the IGCSE as our fifth-form offering for grades 10 and 11 for yet another reason: it helps students develop the courage to measure themselves by international standards. We take this even further by offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma instead of CAPE for grades 12 and 13.

We know that Jamaican young people are as clever and diligent as their peers worldwide. There is no need to seek sixth-form educational institutions abroad. Right here in Kingston the world's finest programmes can be found, and universities from all over the English-speaking world are keen to have students who have proven their work ethic and sharpness of mind through IGCSE and IB.

I might add that there is no need to search abroad for excellent teachers, either. The vast majority of our colleagues are Caribbean-trained, and their efforts to regularly update and enhance their skills are identical to those of the staff members of prestigious institutions abroad. The will to develop talent and skill knows no national boundary.

I am, etc.,


Director, Hillel Academy

51 Upper Mark Way,

Kingston 8