Sunday 20 October, 2019

Schools were instructed to tell parents not to buy GSAT books - Reid

Education Minister, Ruel Reid

Education Minister, Ruel Reid

Education Minister Ruel Reid says schools were advised that Grade Six Assessment Test (GSAT) work books should not be purchased for the new academic year amid the introduction of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) curriculum.

Reid made the declaration against the background of complaints being made by parents that they forked out thousands of dollars ahead of the new school year to purchase books for their children only to now be told that many of the books they were instructed to buy are not sanctioned by the Ministry of Education.

According to the angry parents, at the end of the last school year, the book lists issued by some institutions indicated that they were to purchase some text books that were used for GSAT even though focus has now shifted towards PEP.

What’s worse is that they are now faced with the possibility of being left holding the bag as the Education Ministry has indicated that the books are not required as part of the new system.

Reid told Loop News that notices were sent out to instruct schools that they should not call on parents to purchase GSAT work books.

“We sent out bulletins to the schools to inform parents not to purchase the GSAT work book because we have now moved from GSAT to PEP,” Reid said.

“We have said, first of all, that in the primary school system, the core text books have been provided free of cost by the Government so parents don’t need to buy the core because the content for PEP has not changed,” Reid said.

The minister said he has received reports about the problem, but could not say how widespread the issue was. He stated that the ministry will look further into the development.

This has however done very little to alleviate the frustration of some parents who are demanding answers as to whether they will be compensated for losses they endured in the purchase of books.

One mother, who did not wish to be named, said she spent close to $15,000 on books that should not have been purchased.

“I am now at a loss because the books purchased were GSAT work books and now we are hearing this is not what is needed in the new system,” said the woman.

The main objective of PEP is to enhance the academic and critical thinking capabilities, and creativity of students by the end of primary level education. Students entering Grade Six in September 2018 will comprise the first PEP cohort.

However, the introduction of PEP has been met with widespread pushback, including from the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, due to perceived lack of readiness for the system.

Newly-installed President of the JTA, Dr Garth Anderson said last month that the system is destined to fail.

“Minister, the implementation of the Primary Exit Profile element of the National Standards Curriculum is on track to fail. PEP remains a mystery. Teachers, students and parents are still anxious, even after several workshops have been hosted and the publication of newspaper articles which attempted to allay fears,” he said.

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