JSIF Quiz Hailed for Improving Science and Maths Scores

Photo: Adrian Walker Principal, Maxfield Park Primary School, Beverley Gallimore-Vernon (right), shares the successes of her students from participating in the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) science quiz last year. She was speaking at the recent launch of the competition at JSIF’s Oxford Road offices in Kingston. Also pictured is President, Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE), Dwight Ricketts.

Story Highlights

  • Primary school principals are hailing the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) science quiz competition, noting that the intervention is resulting in improved passes in science and mathematics.
  • Speaking to JIS News at a ceremony to officially launch the competition at JSIF’s Oxford Road offices in Kingston recently, Maxfield Park Primary School Principal, Beverley Gallimore-Vernon, said exposure to the competition resulted in better Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) scores last year..
  • Mrs. Gallimore-Vernon noted that Maxfield Park Primary is one of 13 institutions recognised as “a turnaround school, and this would not be possible without the input of JSIF and their support for us”.

Primary school principals are hailing the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) science quiz competition, noting that the intervention is resulting in improved passes in science and mathematics.

Speaking to JIS News at a ceremony to officially launch the competition at JSIF’s Oxford Road offices in Kingston recently, Maxfield Park Primary School Principal, Beverley Gallimore-Vernon, said exposure to the competition resulted in better Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) scores last year.

“At the sitting of GSAT last year, our grades went up. Our maths score moved from 17 to 34.5 per cent… . Our science score also went up by 17 per cent. So we are making progress,” she said.

Mrs. Gallimore-Vernon noted that Maxfield Park Primary is one of 13 institutions recognised as “a turnaround school, and this would not be possible without the input of JSIF and their support for us”.

She thanked the agency, noting that the competition will help to create future engineers and doctors.

JSIF introduced its science quiz competition in 2016 in support of Government’s thrust to promote of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools.

It also serves to reinforce the grades four and five science curricula and support preparation for the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

Thirty-six students from 12 schools entered the competition in the first year, and 95 students from 18 primary and all-age schools and one foundation across five parishes have signed up for the 2017 staging.

The competition started on November 14 with the first round of quizzes.

JSIF has partnered with the Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE), Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), Scientific Research Council (SRC) and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to host the contest, which includes quizzes, motivational and career talks, science lectures and field trips.

The Maxfield Park Primary Principal said that while the students exited the competition during the first round last year, they are not daunted and intend to “go all the way” this year.

She noted that the performance of students has been encouraging, so far, with scores from the initial round of the competition this year ranging from 60 per cent to a high of 96 per cent.

Steer Town Primary and Junior High School in St. Ann copped second place last year, and the school’s Principal, Michelle White-Guy, told JIS News that the quiz was an “enlightening” experience for the students.

She said it enabled them to practise the content of the grades four and five curricula. She noted that the questions posed were of “higher-order thinking”, which helped the students to develop their critical-thinking skills.

“We also observed after the quiz, when students were practising for the GSAT itself, those that were exposed to the science competition were able to respond in a positive manner to those higher-order questions, because of the exposure that they had before. So, I think it’s a good initiative on the part of JSIF,” she told JIS News.

The Principal said she is pleased that the students were able to transfer the knowledge garnered from this exercise into other subject areas.

Mrs. White-Guy said that while the objective is to “lift the first-place trophy” this year, she is most appreciative of the “value that we are adding” to the learning experience of students.

Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, said the competition serves to address some of the deficiencies in technical skills within the school system, noting that it is “a tremendous way to capture the talent in the sciences”.

He said it will provide an opportunity to partner with various experts and stakeholders to place specific focus “on bringing the nurturing, bringing the support, bringing the spotlight to capture some of that talent”.

Social Development Manager, JSIF, Mona Sue-Ho, told JIS News that the competition will impact many more than the 95 students that have entered.

“Although the quiz is focused on 95 students, the JIE talks will look at the entire grade six for the 19 schools. That’s over a thousand students that will be impacted,” she informed.

President of the JIE, Dwight Ricketts, for his part, said that the Institution is pleased to enhance students’ appreciation of the sciences through mentorship, one-on-one interactions and other contributions.

“We see this as an investment that will not be lost, and we stand tall in furthering the development of the country for the betterment of all,” he added.

Associate Vice President in the Faculty of Marine and Nautical Studies, CMU, Captain Johnny Pretell, praised the JSIF initiative, which includes a component to engage students from two high schools through the university’s cadet programme.

This intervention targets the Godfrey Stewart High School, Westmoreland; and Steer Town Academy in St. Ann.

For his part, National Science Coordinator in the Education Ministry, Sadpha Bennett, pointed out that science is becoming increasingly important and students must be prepared to grasp the opportunities that exist in the technological environment.

“We want to ensure that not only do we produce quality STEM scholars and careers in terms of research and engineering and so on, but also prepare students to look at new and emerging careers.

“A number of changes are taking place in terms of what technology allows, and so it’s very important that we remain on the cutting edge and we get all of our Jamaican students in line with international standards as it relates to science education,” he added.

Overall, 10 schools and one foundation from Kingston and St. Andrew are participating in the competition; one from St. Ann; three from St. James; and four from Clarendon.

The competition is scheduled to end with the final round of the written quiz on Monday (December 4).

It is being staged under the World Bank-funded Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), which aims to promote public safety and transformation through the delivery of basic infrastructure and social services in 18 communities. The targeted schools fall within these communities.

JIS Social