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    • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said that despite some “small hitches,” the sitting of the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Test on June 30 and July 1 was a success.
    • Rev. Thwaites was speaking in an interview with JIS News following the Mona Heights Primary School’s graduation ceremony, held on Thursday (July 2), at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium located on the Jamaica College compound.
    • This year’s sitting of the literacy test is of particular significance, as 2015 is the target year to achieve 85 per cent mastery in literacy by the grade-four cohort, as set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said that despite some “small hitches,” the sitting of the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Test on June 30 and July 1 was a success.

    He explained that the issues were confined to insufficient test and answer papers, but noted that these were quickly rectified. He said that provision was made for students in need of special assistance.

    Rev. Thwaites was speaking in an interview with JIS News following the Mona Heights Primary School’s graduation ceremony, held on Thursday (July 2), at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium located on the Jamaica College compound.

    The test, which is administered to students at the grade four level, is to determine if numeracy and literacy levels are in keeping with international standards.

    In January of this year, it was announced that the dates for the test would be pushed back from the scheduled days in June, to make up for time lost in September and October 2014, due to the impact of the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV).

    In the weeks before the test, the Ministry of Education announced that it had launched a series of televised programmes to help students prepare.

    The programmes, called ‘G4Genius’, featured revision tips and techniques through the use of storytelling, as well as lessons on reading and writing comprehension. The programmes, which also included numeracy lessons about place values, were aired through the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica, as well as on JETv and on DC DIGITL/LOVE TV.

    This year’s sitting of the literacy test is of particular significance, as 2015 is the target year to achieve 85 per cent mastery in literacy by the grade-four cohort, as set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    Last year, a mastery level of 77.4 per cent was achieved in literacy, which is 7.6 percentage points below the target.

    Rev. Thwaites told JIS News that he is hopeful that the goal will be achieved.

    “I am in hope and I live in hope. The teachers have done their best and we are not too far off,” he noted.

    Meanwhile, the target date for mastery in numeracy was revised to 2018, in order to provide additional support for students struggling with Mathematics. Last year, the grade-four cohort achieved a mastery level of 58 per cent in numeracy.

    In his presentation to the Mona High Primary graduates and their families,

    Rev. Thwaites indicated that he has asked high school principals to put in place a summer programme, aimed at addressing deficiencies in literacy and numeracy for students, who will start grade seven in September.

    “In many cases, persons are leaving primary schools and they have to step up their standards of literacy and numeracy in order to benefit from high school. There is no point to going ahead with six and seven subjects if you haven’t got sufficient levels of competency in English and Mathematics,” he argued.

    Rev. Thwaites added, “Don’t be ashamed if you need to step up and do better; if you need some remediation. It is not a shame to admit that you don’t know something you need to know, but it is a crying shame if you know you don’t know it, but you are ashamed to say something about it. I am hoping that we can have a new approach to education and its values as we go from here.”