GSAT MESSAGE - Hon. Andrew Holness M.P.

Release Date: 
Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 14:00

It's GSAT time again. Like thousands of parents this morning, I, too, had a pep talk with my son and I will be praying for him and all children doing these exams today and tomorrow. I remember being very nervous when I was doing the Common Entrance as so very much depended on it. I reminded my son of tried and true test-taking techniques which I want to share: to remain calm, do the easy questions first, read the questions and answers at least twice, and move on to the next question if you are uncertain or unable to answer the current question.

There will always be the need to assess the achievement of students at various levels of the education system, particularly after 5+ years of primary education. However, these exams should not be used as the basis of placing students in schools. Effectively, the achievement test has been used as a means of rationing out scarce preferred places in our secondary education system. In a sense, this defeats the universal objective of education being the vehicle of social mobility for all. It also places intense and unjust pressure on the minds of our children - and by extension, their parents. We must change this system of rationing education opportunities as it actually reinforces social and economic inequalities rather than serving as a catalyst for social transformation.

During my tenure as Minister of Education we began working towards this change by undertaking a review of the GSAT's structure alongside one of the curriculum. It is past time for an update on the way forward regarding the end of primary assessment format and I will be tabling questions to that effect in Parliament shortly. I am committed to changing this system and truly making access to our education system universal.