MONTEGO BAY — One hundred and fifty five students, who achieved passes averaging between 60 per cent and 98 per cent in the recent Grade Six Achievement Tests (GSAT), were awarded scholarships and trophies by Member of Parliament for East Central St. James, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.
Highest on the list were Top Girl, Shannon Brown, of John Rollins Primary School, with a 97 per cent pass, and Top Boy, Marquis Birch, also of John Rollins Primary School, who attained a 90.2 per cent pass. They were presented with cash awards of $50,000 each. The prizes totaled $250,000.
The students are residents of the constituency, however, Mr. Bartlett, the Minister of Tourism, made a special award to a student from outside, Adriena Cribb, of Eber Preparatory School in Reading, St. James, who achieved an average of 97.8 per cent.
In making the presentations at the Edmund Bartlett GSAT Scholarship Awards Ceremony, at the Montego Bay Civic Centre on Thursday July 7, 2011, the Minister congratulated the students on their achievements, and the teachers for their work in guiding the students to admirable levels of excellence.
“Today, I am the proudest Member of Parliament in Jamaica, and I am this proud because of you,” he remarked.
He related that the process which has led to the current successes, started years ago with the early childhood institutions. Resources were pumped into the basic schools, to build their capacity to become registered and have the necessary accreditation.
“We started to give scholarships to the basic school teachers, because we insisted that, unless we had improved and highly skilled teachers at the kindergarten/basic school level, then we would be wasting our time at the primary and secondary levels,” he stated.
“And so, every child in every primary and all age school in East Central (St. James) had access to all five workbooks … and this has paid off. This has elevated the performance of the students in all the schools,” he said.
He noted that result has been that East Central St. James has some of the best trained teachers in the parish, and the performance of students in all its schools has been elevated. He also pointed out that eight per cent of the students got averages of 60 to 79 per cent, 81 percent had grades of 80 to 90 per cent and 11 percent had averages above 90 per cent.
He said that, this year, in tribute to the achievements of students and teachers, and because he will be celebrating his tenth year as M.P. for the constituency, he will be doubling the scholarship money to $10 million.
Guest Speaker was Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Grace McLean, who told the participants that education was a partnership, as the Ministry of Education could not do it alone.
“We need the community representatives, we need the Members of Parliament, we need the Councillors, we need the private sector to come on board to ensure that we provide this kind of quality education for our children,” she said.
She stated that the Ministry of Education is trying to ensure that it provides the support teachers need so that, irrespective of the challenges they face, the students will be able to achieve success.
By GLENIS ROSE, JIS Reporter