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The Ministry of Education will be examining registration practices at the primary level, to ensure that there are no breaches of policy or violation of rights.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, gave this undertaking yesterday (June 21) at a press conference at Jamaica House on the results of the 2010 Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
“We are going to have to deal with the applications process because we see certain things creeping in at the primary level, where we notice that places in the public school system are being asked premium price. Our constitution is to guarantee tuition free at the primary level, so the practices that exist in the registration and application processes, they will have to be examined,” he stated.
Mr. Holness was speaking against the background of the National Student Registration process that is to come on stream. The measure will ensure that by the time a student reaches the GSAT level, all the relevant documents and information would have been submitted and available, to make the process seamless.
“The student will be required to fill out a registration form. It will be filled out by the school and parents in collaboration and that will capture all biographical and demographical data related to that child. Once we have captured that, the student would have no need to go and register for examinations that are run by the Government,” he explained.
“So, the student would register at grade one, and there would be no need to go and register again to do the diagnostic (test), Grade Four (Literacy Test), or GSAT,” he said further.
He noted that the process will eliminate the hitches that occur when students are registering for exams, and save significant time and administrative resources. “By putting in the registration process at grade one, we have five years technically, within which to perfect data and information,” he pointed out.
At the same time, he said, the schools and the Ministry will have significant access to data that will help to plan and devise policies and strategies, to improve performance.
Meanwhile, Mr. Holness said there had been a falloff of some 1,000 students registering for GSAT each year, and that the Ministry will also be examining the contributing factors to address the situation.
“Whilst we know that the birthrate is declining, we don’t want to get caught in the trap where students are not registering for school, and therefore our universal primary education may be threatened, so we are going to be doing our statistical analyses and checks to ensure that we don’t have a falloff in student registration,” he stated.