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Parents Urged to Register Students for Sixth Form Pathways Programme

Minister of Education, Youth, and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, is reminding students and parents to register for the Sixth Form Pathways Programme.

“All our students will now have the opportunity to continue their education in one of three pathways,” she said, while addressing a virtual press conference on Monday (October 19).

These are the Traditional pathways comprising the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), a certificate and or associate degree, or Council of Community College of Jamaica/University Council of Jamaica (CCCJ/UCJ) accredited associate degree; Technical pathway – Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate/Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CSEC/CAPE), National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training/Caribbean Vocational Qualification (NCTVET/CVQ) Levels 2 or 3; or the General pathway – CSEC, City and Guilds, and NCTVET Level 2.

Minister Williams noted that the Sixth Form Pathways Programme will use a blended learning approach involving online and face-to-face where possible.

The Sixth Form Pathways is part of the Ministry’s implementation of a seven-year high school programme.

It allows for students, who complete grade 11, to enroll in the programme and pursue a two-year course of study with alternative opportunities alongside the traditional sixth-form curriculum.

Students will be able to secure multiple qualifications within the two years and acquire college credits that will provide a head start in their tertiary studies.

For those who choose not to attend a tertiary institution, the certification they receive at the end of the Sixth Form Pathways Programmer will prepare them to enter various fields of work or receive further general or technical training.

CSEC, CAPE Results Satisfactory – Minister Williams

Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the results of this year’s secondary school external examinations were satisfactory, particularly given the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic.

Students across the island sat the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) in June and July.

Mrs. Williams, who provided a preliminary analysis report of the exams at a virtual press conference this morning (October 19), noted that except for mathematics, students managed to perform well overall.

For public schools, 38.2 per cent of students had a passing grade for CSEC Mathematics, while in Applied Mathematics for CAPE, 47.3 per cent of students had a passing grade.

Mrs. Williams noted that the Ministry will “need to make changes in their approach across the education system to help students raise their mathematics scores”.

“I want to commend all the students, who persevered and did their examinations under very trying and challenging circumstances this year. I also want to encourage those who may not have done as well as they would have liked to look for opportunities that will contribute to improved performance,” the Minister said.

For CSEC, a total of 30,188 students from public schools were registered to sit the examination, of which 27,789 (92.1 per cent) sat papers across 34 subjects ranging from Agricultural Science to Principles of Accounts.

Of those students who registered and sat the exams, 23,760 or 85.8 per cent received Grades One, Two or Three in at least one subject.

Across the cohort of CSEC students in both public and private schools, there were 172,927 subject entries, of which 155,735 or 90 per cent were sat, while some 5,509 (three per cent) subject entries were deferred.

Six subjects had the highest percentage of students, who passed with Grades One, Two and Three.

These are Agricultural Science Double Award, 94.7 per cent; Agricultural Science Single Award, 87.1 per cent; Food, Nutrition and Health, 88.1 per cent; Information Technology, 85.6 per cent; Physical Education and Sport, 89.9 per cent; and Textiles, Clothing and Fashion, 86.8 per cent.

For English Language, 73.3 per cent of students had a passing grade; Integrated Science, 57. 2 per cent; Chemistry, 58.5 per cent; Physics, 61.7 per cent; Human and Social Biology, 64.2 per cent; and Biology, 71.6 per cent.

Overall, Minister Williams said in comparison to the 2020 results, there were improvements in seven subjects.

They are Agricultural Science (Double Award), Human and Social Biology, Integrated Science, Music, Textiles, Clothing and Fashion, Theatre Arts and Visual Arts.

For CAPE, the results across the sixth-form cohort showed that of the 53,643 subject entries for Units One and Two, 48,702 were sat, with 88.8 per cent being awarded Grades One to Five.

Overall, 33,861 students sat CAPE Unit One, for which 88.3 per cent passed, while 14,841 sat CAPE Unit Two with 90 per cent passing.

Minister Williams said of the total number of students who sat the CAPE examinations, public schools accounted for 48,401.

She noted that compared to the 2020 results, Accounting, Animation and Game Design, Chemistry, Entrepreneurship and Physical Education and Sport recorded improved performances.

Some 294 entries in all 34 subject areas for both Units were deferred.

The external exams were administered through the Offices of the Overseas Examinations Commission.

Specialist Teachers for Primary And Secondary Schools

Minister of Education, Youth, and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams,` says the Ministry will be engaging specialist teachers under the National School Learning and Intervention Plan (NSLIP) to improve academic readiness.

“[This is] to address the performance gaps, especially in the areas of numeracy and literacy, augmented by our specialist teacher model to address the foundational principles and improve [the] readiness of our students to pursue the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) syllabi,” she said.

A total of 158 primary schools and 72 secondary schools are expected to benefit from the intervention.

“Currently, we have assigned a team of 83 persons –. 50 primary math coaches, 19 secondary math coaches and 14 math specialists, who will continue to provide support remotely and physically,” she said.

Minister Williams was speaking at a virtual press briefing held today (October 19), where she shared the preliminary results of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).

She said that despite the challenges of the pandemic, students performed satisfactorily for all subject areas except mathematics.

“In mathematics, the subject with the greatest weakness, 38.2 per cent of students had passes of Grades One, Two and Three in 2021 compared with 61.2 per cent in 2020 [and] 54.6 per cent in 2019,” she disclosed.

She said that interventions, such as the NSLIP, will help in the “recovery that is needed in the knowledge base of our children”.

“We have high hurdles to clear this academic year, but we are working to ensure that our students are not stymied in the pursuit of their education and career goals,” she said.

The NSLIP is aimed at helping students to recover from learning loss due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It includes interventions over the summer period and during the academic year.

MoEYI welcomes new Acting Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Maureen Dwyer

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, proudly welcomes Mrs. Maureen Dwyer as our Permanent Secretary (Acting).

Mrs. Dwyer has a long record of distinction in the education sector and has been providing the blueprint for school excellence in Jamaica, through her work as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Inspector of the National Education Inspectorate. She has over 35 years’ experience in the delivery and evaluation of educational services in Jamaica and other Caribbean territories. Mrs. Dwyer’s contribution to education includes her chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Task Force working on the development of a regional Basic Education Quality Management System for the fifteen member states. Additionally, she has contributed to school improvement and quality assurance in, Grenada, Antigua, Suriname, St. Kitts and Nevis and Guyana.

The focus of Mrs. Dwyer’s work has been the evaluation of standards, conducting external reviews and providing policy advice to the education system in Jamaica. Her purpose is to promote accountability and excellence in the education sector and to advocate for change and improvement in education. She believes education is the cornerstone for human development and sees it as an instrument of peace and social justice that will help to lessen certain disparities in society.

Mrs. Dwyer advances her beliefs through strategic partnerships with International Development Partners (IDP) to include the World Bank, the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB), the European Union (EU), Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Mrs. Maureen Dwyer is a PhD candidate with the University of London. She was conferred with the Badge of Honour for meritorious service in 2019, in recognition of her loyal and meritorious service in education and the people of Jamaica.


Grade-Six PEP Exams Begin February 22

Administration of the 2021/22 Primary Exit Profile (PEP) for grade six will begin on February 22, 2022, with the sitting of the Ability Test.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, made the disclosure at Wednesday’s (October 6) virtual post-Cabinet press briefing.

Grade-six students will sit the Language Arts Performance Task on March 23 and the Mathematics component on March 24, and the Curriculum-based Test on April 27 and 28.

The grade-four Performance Task is scheduled for June 29 and 30, and the dates for the Performance Task for grade-five students are June 8 and 9.

“It must be noted that alternative plans are also in place if the dates set for the assessment are disrupted by the pandemic as they were in the last academic year,” Mrs. Williams said.

She informed that registration has commenced under the online platform and this closes on October 8, 2021.

The grades four and five PEP assessments, which were scheduled for the Christmas term, have been cancelled, given the further disruption of the education sector due to the pandemic.

The exams were previously scheduled for the 2020/2021 academic year but were postponed until the first term in the current period.

Government Committed to Fast Tracking the Review of The Access to Information Act Reforms

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information, the Hon. Robert Morgan says the Government is committed to fast tracking the review of the Access to Information Act reforms.

“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is currently awaiting comments from the Attorney General’s Chamber on a Cabinet submission with respect to this review. Once the comments are received, we will move to submit to Cabinet for consideration,” Mr. Morgan said.

“We are committed to having meaningful consultations with the public during the review period and would like to hear your feedback and recommendations,” he added.

The State Minister was speaking at an Access to Information Unit (AIU) virtual event held on October 1.

The Access to Information Act gives citizens and other persons a general legal right of access to official government documents which would otherwise be inaccessible.

Mr. Morgan said that documentation and information access services provided by public authorities as they are broadly defined by the Act, is a service that has “legal timelines”.

He emphasized the Government’s commitment to putting the appropriate systems in place to ensure compliance.

“It is for this reason that we seek public access to information broadly and are designing our systems to encompass the use of technology to improve records and information management within government and improve processes and operations of ministries, agencies and departments. This will allow for more efficient and timely access to information,” the State Minister said.

40 Tablets For Grateful Hill Primary

The Grateful Hill Primary School in St. Catherine has 40 tablet computers and $200,000 worth of bursaries for needy students, compliments of past student Unique Gray.

Gray who is the principal behind Drive Unique, a car-rental entity, said she saw on social media that the school was on a drive to get tablets for students in need and decided to help. Thereafter, she discovered that there was also a need for monetary support for students.

“It is a great feeling because of how the kids looked when they got them,” Miss Gray said while speaking in an interview with JIS News, adding that “we will be in touch with the school, and whatever need exists we will help them as best as possible,” she added.

Principal of the school, George Moodie, said the tablet drive has picked up pace, as two other past students have contributed eight of the devices. “They are coming on board to ensure that the Grateful Hill Primary School is with tablets, so that the students can access quality education,” Mr. Moodie said.

He also reported that 97 per cent of his students have been placed in traditional high schools from the recent Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations. He said the teachers at the institutions, especially those for grade six, “fought the odds” to reach students during the pandemic, and their efforts along with parents and other stakeholders have helped the school to move from 95 per cent to 97 per cent passes during the last sitting of the exams.

“Our continuous climbing on the educational ladder, and with the involvement of our past students, we are now on a rebranding phase of the institution to take the students to another level of education,” he said.

While arguing that the school is a family-based institution, Mr. Moodie said they use a motto to motivate students, instilling in them that “I am good as any, better that many, and second to none.” The school has 340 students, 14 teachers, and three caregivers.


Jamaica Customs Donates 60 Tablets To Two Primary Schools

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has donated 60 tablets valued at $1.2 million to two primary schools in St. James and St. Andrew.

The institutions are Farm Primary and Infant in Green Pond and Edward Seaga Primary in Denham Town, which were presented with 30 tablets each on September 8 and September 9, respectively.

Director of Internal Affairs at the JCA and Chairperson of the Agency’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee, Tameka Goulbourne, told JIS News that the funds used to purchase the devices came from personal donations by employees.

The devices were purchased according to specifications given by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Ms. Goulbourne said that the CSR Committee focuses its efforts in and around communities where the JCA’s offices are located.

“We have community locations in Montego Bay and our head office and other Customs locations are not very far from Edward Seaga Primary, so we engage the schools that are within our reach, within our own communities, to see how best we can assist them,” she said.

Noting the genesis of the CSR programme, Ms. Goulbourne said “we wanted to have a greater impact on our stakeholders beyond our current mandate, especially with everything that has been going on. We are experiencing unprecedented times, so we made the decision to establish a programme with this in mind”.

She noted that a big part of the programme’s objective is to meet the needs of specific vulnerable groups, such as children and persons in need of assistance.

“With the current initiative, we launched a tablet drive within the agency where we invited members of the organisation to donate and give towards a worthy cause, and it was so good,” Ms. Goulbourne said.

“We identified the two primary schools, and we partnered with them because since the pandemic there are quite a number of students who have not really been in school or been consistent in school, because they don’t have proper devices to use to be able to access their classes. So, we decided to give some assistance to these schools,” she noted.

Digital Divide In Education Has Been Significantly Reduced – Minister Williams

Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, says she is pleased that the Ministry has been able to significantly reduce the digital divide in the sector through the implementation of several initiatives aimed at providing more students with electronic devices.

“There are many more students with devices now at the start of this school year than there were the last school year because [of] the significant efforts that we made with the ‘One Laptop per Child’ initiative, the ‘Own Your Own Device’ and the government procurement of devices,” she said in a recent interview with JIS News.

Designed to promote inclusivity in the education sector, the One Laptop per Child initiative and the Own Your Own Device incentive programme, which were launched last year, seek to facilitate students’ continued education remotely, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The One Laptop per Child  initiative provides devices for needy students, including those with special needs, students in State care/homes as well as those who are not beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), while the Own Your Own Device provides the guardians or parents of needy students with a $20,000 gift voucher to be used towards the purchase of an electronic device.

In the meantime, Minister Williams said she is pleased with the smooth start to the new school year, which she said, was facilitated by the increased number of children who now have access to electronic devices.

“From the early checks of the system and throughout the day, we did not detect any issues. In fact, people were saying the start of this school year virtually is much better that it was last year,” she noted.

The first week of the new school year is being conducted remotely given the rise in COVID-19 cases. The Minister is hoping that students will be back to the face-to-face mode as quickly as possible.

“In the education sector, we have our dreams, we have our expectations. We have said we would love for our high-school students to be able to go back [to face-to-face] in October, but again, we are guided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. So, we have to take our lead from them in terms of the timing of this, but we are geared up and ready to go back as soon as possible,” she said.

Lessons are being delivered online, via printed learning packages or kits and through the audio/visual (television and radio) platforms.

Parents Encouraged To Keep In Touch With School Administrators

Parents are being  advised to keep the channels of communication open with school administrators, to ensure their children’s educational needs are met as best as possible.

This comes from Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Grace McLean, who stressed the importance of parents answering telephone calls and responding to messages from school administrators.

“If you are not able to do so (respond) at the time when the [calls and] messages come in, in the evening when you’re home from work and so on, please respond because on many occasions your principals and teachers are trying to get in touch with you as parents and they are unable to,” she said.

Dr. McLean, who was addressing a recent virtual Parents’ Town Hall Meeting, noted that there have been several instances where school administrators have been unable to locate some students and, therefore, implored parents to assist in this process “to ensure that there is a customised plan for the education of your child”.

“Parents, another five, 15, 20 years from now, we don’t want to be looking back at those children who would’ve been severely affected by this pandemic that we didn’t cause on ourselves and say that this is a lost generation,” she said.

Dr. McLean assured that the Education Ministry is prepared “to do everything that we possibly can to assist in ensuring that your children access the type of education that will make them into the kind of citizens who are socially acclimatised to a civilised society”.

“Parents, we are beseeching [you]; we need your help to help your children to become educated,” she added.

In the meantime, Dr. McLean informed that the Ministry has begun to communicate directly with parents via email, to provide pertinent information regarding the education of their children, noting that, where appropriate, information is also sent to students.

“I encourage you (parents) to make sure that if you want us to communicate with you directly, you can make your information available through our regional offices and there will be a call that we will be sending out by way of our website, so that we can have you all as a part of our data so that we can communicate with you directly,” she said.