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JIS News

The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Competence-based Transition Policy, which will ensure that every child progressing to secondary school is literate, will come into effect in June this year.
Senior Director of Human Resource and Modernisation in the Ministry, Ruth Morris, explained to JIS News that under the policy, no child, who is illiterate, will be allowed to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). “All children transitioning from the primary level to the secondary level must be literate,” she stated.
Under the new policy, pupils must achieve mastery of the Grade Four Literacy Test before they are allowed to sit GSAT. Starting this year, the sitting of the Grade Four test will be moved from May to June, and it will be administered as a national external examination similar to GSAT.
“Children will be registered and will sit it under examination conditions. Papers will be marked and scored externally to the school. The results will be published from the MOE,” Mrs. Morris informed.
Each child, who has achieved mastery of the literacy test, will receive a certificate, which will qualify them to sit the GSAT in 2011. The schools will receive the performance of all the students.
Those who are not successful at the June sitting will have other opportunities to take the test, during the two-year period until GSAT.
“There are four windows to sit [the Grade 4 Literacy Test]. You will have a general sitting in June of each year and a supplemental sitting in December of each year so only the children, who did not master it in the general sitting, will sit the supplemental in December, so it will happen four times,” Mrs. Morris explained.
According to the Senior Director, the main objective of the Competence-Based Transition Policy is to “secure the optimum level of literacy of the school-age population”.
“Currently, we are having about 20 to 25 per cent of our children illiterate and that group represents a trend throughout the entire system,” she lamented.
She noted that this problem of illiteracy has serious implications for the development of the affected children, in that they are unable to access secondary education in a proper way.
“When you look at the Caribbean Secondary Examinations Council (CSEC) results, you have a low rate of success in English, Math etc,” she pointed out, noting that while the policy will be “obvious and apparent at grade four, the intention is to impact the system from grade one right through to grade 11.”