LETTER OF THE DAY - What's a high-school diploma worth?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I note with interest the recent announcement at a function by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites that dropouts will soon get the chance to earn their high-school diploma through a partnership of the e-Learning Project, the Jamaica Library Service and the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning.
Minister Thwaites promised to provide further details on the initiative at a later date. However, I am left to wonder what has prompted Minister Thwaites to so move when a similar initiative, the High School Equivalency Programme (HISEP), was launched in 2006 to begin that September, after going through a pilot phase in 2004. Was that programme discontinued or deemed a failure?
HISEP was developed as a joint initiative involving the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education, the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, the HEART Trust/National Training Agency, and the then Ministry of Education and Youth.
Like the initiative announced by Minister Thwaites, HISEP was designed to give high-school dropouts a second chance at a secondary-level education, focusing on several subject areas: language and communication, literature, culture and the arts, mathematics, science and technology, and society and citizenship. The successful completion of HISEP would earn the learners a high-school equivalency diploma.
Although I was very supportive of HISEP, as I am of this supposedly new but basically similar initiative by Minister Thwaites, what exactly would be the purpose of one obtaining such a diploma, especially when the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams are really what tertiary institutions and employers typically require or use to evaluate applicants?
No wide-scale standard
To what specifically would the programme for high-school dropouts be equivalent? I doubt it would be equivalent to one graduating from high school with some CSEC subjects.
We do not have a standard high-school diploma that certifies that one has completed high school at a level of competence that at least basically prepares him for the working world and/or for further schooling or training. Truth be told, there are many people 'graduating' high school who are functionally illiterate.
We, therefore, would have to ensure a standard diploma programme for all high-school graduates that has some meaningful value before we can talk about an equivalency.
I trust, when the minister speaks further on the initiative, sufficient clarity will be provided as to the objective and expected usefulness of such an initiative.
KEVIN K.O. SANGSTER