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Story Highlights

  • Several stakeholders in the education sector have come out in support of plans by the Ministry of Education to place students doing the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), in schools close to where they live.
  • Responding to the idea, President of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, Heather Murray, told JIS News that it is a “move in the right direction.”

Several stakeholders in the education sector have come out in support of plans by the Ministry of Education to place students doing the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), in schools close to where they live.

Responding to the idea, President of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, Heather Murray, told JIS News that it is a “move in the right direction.”

“It is a wonderful idea,” she said, noting that with many parents facing financial challenges, “it places strain on them to be passing three and four schools, when there is a school in their community that the student can attend.”

According to Mrs. Murray, the Ministry, while implementing the policy, needs to work very carefully through all the implications, such as students who are enrolled at boarding schools, and those who get high marks in the GSAT.

Making the announcement last week, Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said there  will always be respect for “parental preferences for placement in high school, but wherever possible, to encourage students to attend school close to their place of residence.”

“The schools in their neighbourhood are improving…we are committed to having them improve even more. The dangers of having to travel, the time wasted, are such that it is really better if we stay closer to home,” the Minister said.

For President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Doran Dixon, “we support the general principle…if you operate on the basic principle that as much as possible, you stay as close as possible to home.”

Mr. Dixon added that there are many positives to be achieved from placing children in schools close to their homes, but emphasised that based on perception, some parents might not be confident in particular schools.

The President is calling for dialogue with all the stakeholders to settle any contentions that may arrive.

For her part, Executive Director of the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSCO), Dr Patrice Charles-Freeman, said while parents have concerns, and there is a need for further discussions, benefits to parents will come from reduction in transportation costs, easier access for the child to school and home, and a decrease in the opportunities for negative things to occur.