Thwaites Must Clarify Statements on GSAT Placement - Johnson Smith

Release Date: 
Monday, June 8, 2015 - 21:00

JLP Spokesperson on Education and Youth Senator Kamina Johnson Smith is today calling on the Minister of Education to urgently clarify his reported position on GSAT placement this year.

She was responding to recent reports of statements by the Minister of Education, Ronald Thwaites that this year the Ministry will be ensuring that students entering secondary school are placed in institutions close to where they live.

Senator Johnson Smith said: "Not only is the Jamaican education system not ready for this type of general placement system, but there has been no Ministry Paper before Parliament or official communication to schools or parents about a change of approach."

She continued: "When the Ministry is able to generally equalize the resources available to our schools; when the performance of primary and secondary schools are generally improved across the board, geographic placement will make sense. At that time, distance and choice will be less of a concern for parents and children, and parents and schools can be properly notified of any such major policy change before the start of an exam cycle.”

Responding specifically to Minister Thwaites' justification of the policy as a means to correct disciplinary problems at bus parks, Johnson Smith said, "The Minister should not try to correct one problem by entrenching another far more fundamental one - the problem of inequities in the education system. Does the Minister really think that keeping undisciplined students closer to home will make them disciplined? Instead the Minister should call on the Ministry of National Security to provide more constables at Transport Centers and ensure, through his own Ministry, that there are enough Deans of Discipline at school and their effectiveness monitored; that enough Guidance Counsellor contact hours are available to disruptive children in schools; and trained Social Workers deployed to support the Counsellors where issues go beyond the gate."

In closing she reiterated her call for the Minister to urgently clarify the Ministry’s position as recent media reports are causing much distress and confusion among parents and children as indicated by calls made to her.

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