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Thirty two students who sat the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) have reaped the benefits of their remarkable scores, with the award of government scholarships for outstanding achievement.
The programme aims to recognise and award exceptional work among GSAT students, who are selected by a committee and ranked based on performance.
Chief Education Officer in the Assessment Unit at the Ministry of Education, Sharon Neil, explains that there are no set scoring criteria for scholarships, as each child is awarded based on his/her performance at that sitting of the exam.
There are four named scholarships each year valued at $180,000, and 28 unnamed scholarships valued at $100,000.
JIS News spoke with the Top Boy and Girl scholars, who were both in high spirits following their achievements.
Zhara-Marie Henry from Mineral Heights Primary, Clarendon, who now attends Glenmiur High, recalls how she heard the exciting news.
“I was on the Internet and I got a call from my friend, and then people kept on calling me and then my mommy got a call,” she relates.
Zhara-Marie says that, although the social studies aspect of the exam was challenging and she had some doubts, when her grades came out she realised that they were scholarship grades.
“So, I was expecting it. I got 95 in social studies, 99 in math, 100 in language arts, 100 in communications task and 96 in science,” she confesses.
She says studying for the exam was not difficult, as she is used to putting her shoulders to the wheel, and she had significant support from her mother, a teacher.
Zhara-Marie has her sights set to even greater heights, as she hopes to achieve passes in at least 10 CXC and CAPE subjects, and to pursue a career in criminal law.
Top Boy, Dominic Saunders from St. Richards Primary in Kingston, now attends Campion College and says he was elated with the news.
“Yes, I knew that I was going to get it (the scholarship)…I qualified for two scholarships. I got 95 for math, 96 for science, 99 for social studies, 100 for language arts and 12/12 for communications task,” Dominic explains.
He says that GSAT was not difficult, as he had gone through the work before for quiz sessions, so it was basically reviewing what he had done before. He admits that while science is a bit challenging, social studies was much easier.
“I have a timetable and I work with it. I have an hour for TV and for games, and two hours for studying and so on.I made it when I was going into Grade Six,” says Dominic, who is planning on studying aeronautical engineer at Oxford University, England.
Principal of Mineral Heights Primary, Dalton Shaw, says the school, which produced Top Girl, Zhara-Marie Henry, was very pleased with her success.
“We were really happy for Zhara for receiving the scholarship with an overall average of 98 per cent. Over the years, Mineral Heights has been performing excellently. We prize the school, as a school that really does holistic learning,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Shaw highlighted that the institution has an active Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and regular staff meetings, as well as professional development workshops for teachers.
“We discuss issues (and) introduce ideas, and all of this goes toward children receiving the benefit of what the school has to offer,” he notes.
Mr. Shaw says that the Mineral Heights Primary School community is excited about her success, which has served as a source of inspiration for others.
“The added incentive is that the students who are performing, will stay even more focused, and they know they have to score excellently to really get such an award.as do the parents who are the supporters of these children,” he states.
Mona Preparatory School, in Kingston, attracted three GSAT scholarships this year, through Kamai Sykes, who was the second place boy in the Primary, All-Age or Primary and Junior High School category; Mathew Ebanks; and Ysabelle Hughes.
The Principal, Enola Beharie Williams, and Coordinator for the Grade Six programme, Jennifer Dinnal, all agreed that close monitoring and continuous assessment of the curriculum were critical to the high performance level of the students. From Kindergarten to Grade Six, students are monitored and there is constant feedback to parents who do their part to ensure their children’s success.
Mona Preparatory facilitates a well-rounded programme. Parents are asked to allow their children to maintain their extra-curricular activities, even during the GSAT preparation period. The Principal says it is important that children have time to relax and to develop their many talents.
Principal of Wolmers’ Preparatory School, Lorna Downie, is no less pleased with her school’s scholarship winner, Johnathan Richards, who is now attending Campion College.
“Every principal wants to know that there are going to be scholarships. When I look at the overall performance…it serves as motivation. We talk about it at devotion, give pep talks and allow the other students to congratulate them. They want to know what they can do to get scholarships too, and we tell them that they just have to work hard and be dedicated,” she says.

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