Remember Lester: Recalling Lester Spaulding’s Legendary Life

The news that Joseph Aloysius Lester Spaulding, 76, passed away on the afternoon of Friday, November 17, 2017, at the Andrews Memorial Hospital after battling illness, sent shock waves of sadness across the Caribbean media landscape. He was known as a giant in the field, earning respect as a general and veteran who worked tirelessly in media to establish the prominence of what is perhaps Jamaica’s largest media house, RJR Gleaner Communications Group. Here are some noteworthy memories of Lester Spaulding’s legendary life.

Early life

He was born in Kingston on April 1, 1941, and started formal education at the Half-Way Tree Primary School. After this, he attended Kingston College, a traditional all-boys’ high school, then went to the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), since renamed the College of Science and Education (CASE).

Work life

After working at PricewaterhouseCoopers between 1959  and 1964, Spaulding’s long history of contribution to Jamaica and the Caribbean media began with his first job in media at Radio Jamaica. He grew from an accountant to become the company’s CEO and chairman. He was hired as chief clerk in 1965, and held that post for three years, until 1968. In 1969, he rose to the rank of chief accountant, and maintained that post until 1977.

In  1978, Spaulding made history as the first Jamaican native to be hired as managing director of Radio Jamaica – a title he retained until 2008. He was also appointed chairman of the RJR Group in 1994, and kept the post from 1995 to 2016, at which time the merger between the RJR Communications Group and The Gleaner (Media) Company Ltd took place. After that, up until the time of his death, he was chairman of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group. He was due to retire at the end of November 2017.

His contribution to Caribbean media over the span of his working life was epic. According to Gary Allen, among other things, Spaulding “presided over Television Jamaica becoming the first digital television facility in the Caribbean, and he was very much involved in the current transition to high-definition television”.

Other work responsibilities

Spaulding served as a board member of Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Caribbean News Agency (CANA), National Crime Prevention Fund (CRIMESTOP), PALS Jamaica Limited, Guardsman Communications Limited and GV Media Group in London. He was president  of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union between 1987 and 1991, and was also a director of the Caribbean News Agency and the first chairman of the Caribbean Media Corporation.

He was a founding member of the National Crime Prevention Fund, more commonly known as Crime Stop Jamaica. After being appointed co-chair of Crime Stop at the launch in 1989, he assumed the chairmanship in March of 1993, a position he held for seven years. Then, he rescinded the chairmanship and took on the deputy chairman role until he resigned from the Board in 2013.

Spaulding served on several boards of directors for many companies, including LASCO Manufacturing; LASCO Distributors; Peace and Love in Schools; the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons; Guardsman Communications; the Private Security Regulations Authority; Jamaica National Money Services; the Scottish Masonic Association; the St Andrew Justice of the Peace and Lay Magistrates’ Association; the National Crime Prevention Fund; Clearchannel Communications Limited; the Gleaner/Voice Group in London, and Salada Foods Jamaica.

Honours and awards:
Order of Distinction, Commander Class
Advertising Agencies Association of Jamaica’s Millennium Man Award
Caribbean Media Corporation Award of Excellence for Leadership
Caribbean Peer Awards lifetime Achievement Award

Sources:
The Gleaner: Goodbye to a Legend – Death of RJR Gleaner Chairman Lester Spaulding Shocks Media Fraternity
The Gleaner: Editorial – Lester Spaulding’s Big Vision
The Gleaner: PAJ Pays Tribute To Lester Spaulding
The Gleaner: RJRGLEANER Group Chairman Lester Spaulding Dies

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6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. Gov’t passes NIDS
  2. NWA to do islandwide road repairs
  3. No mining in Cockpit Country -PM
  4. Falmouth Cruise boon downgraded
  5. OCG asks DPP to investigate Lisa Hanna, St Ann councillors
  6. Four UDC attractions cop travel awards

1. Gov’t passes NIDS

Senate amendments to the controversial National Identification Registration Act 2017, otherwise called the NIDS bill, received unanimous support from Government lawmakers in the Lower House yesterday in the absence of the parliamentary Opposition. The Opposition had earlier exited the chamber following a “20-minute” suspension of the sitting by Speaker of the House, Pearnel Charles. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. NWA to do islandwide road repairs

The National Works Agency (NWA) is to spend another $1.7 billion to rehabilitate roadways across the island. According to manager of communication and customer services at the NWA, Stephen Shaw, some 21 roadways in seven parishes will be given attention under the second phase of the local component of the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP). See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

3. No mining in Cockpit Country -PM

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that no mining will be permitted in the Cockpit Country Protected Area. Holness made the declaration in Parliament a short while ago, weeks after the deadline for his response to a successful petition against permitting mining in the Cockpit Country Protected Area. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4. Falmouth cruise boon downgraded

Michael Belnavis, the chairman of Jamaica National Cruise Council, says the expected boon from the increase in the number of ships calling at Falmouth Pier due to hurricane destruction to other piers in the Caribbean and Key West in Florida, has fallen short of original expectations. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

Lisa Hanna

5. OCG asks DPP to investiage Lisa Hanna, St Ann councillors

Contractor General Dirk Harrison has recommended that the Director of Public Prosecutions pursue criminal investigations against a number of persons in relation to the award of contracts in the St Ann South East constituency represented in Parliament by Lisa Hanna. The report on the Contractor general’s probe which began in 2015 was tabled in the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. Four UDC attractions cop travel awards

Four of Jamaica’s attractions managed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) have copped certificates of excellence from the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, for 2017 for excellence in hospitality and for continuously meeting the needs of their customers. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

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6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. Ninjaman, son found guilty of murder
  2. Charges recommended for mother who violently beat 4-y-o
  3. Chinese hit hard by realities in local sugar industry
  4. Two die, three injured in temple Hall crash
  5. PM to speak on Cockpit Country borders in Parliament
  6. New coffee regulations in place

1. Ninjaman, son found guilty of murder

“A suh it go, man.” That was the reaction of dancehall artiste Ninja Man as he and his co-accused were led from the Home Circuit Court in handcuffs Monday afternoon. Ninja Man, whose real name is Desmond Ballentyne, his son Janiel, and another man identified as Dennis Clayton, had just been found guilty of the eight-year-old murder of Ricardo Johnson, also known as Ricky Trooper. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. Charges recommended for mother who violently beat 4-y-o

A recommendation has been put forward by chief executive officer of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Rosalee Gage-Grey, that the woman seen violently beating her four-year-old daughter in a viral video be charged. The case has reportedly been referred to the director of public prosecutions. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

3. Chinese hit hard by realities in local sugar industry

George Hong Guo, deputy chief executive officer of Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC), said despite conducting an intense feasibility study on the local sugar sector, his firm was not prepared for the realities that they have had to face over the past seven years. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4. Two die, three injured in Temple Hall crash

Two people have been confirmed dead and three others rushed to hospital following an early-morning crash along the Temple Hall main road in St Andrew. Those killed – a male and a female – were passengers in a blue Mitsubishi Lancer motor car heading towards Kingston. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

5. PM to speak on Cockpit Country borders in Parliament

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is expected to make a presentation on the borders of Cockpit Country in Parliament this afternoon. The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) had launched a successful petition calling for the boundaries of the Cockpit Country to be made official and for the area to be closed to mining and quarrying. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. New coffee regulations in place

Industry Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Karl Samuda has announced that regulations are now in place that will ensure that all coffee that is imported, packaged and sold locally will be mixed with Jamaican green beans. According to Samuda, when persons import coffee, mix it with cheap imported beans and sell that product to hotels as coffee that is processed and packaged in Jamaica, it cheapens and destroys the reputation of the Jamaican coffee brand. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

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6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. Authorities probe viral video of mother beating child
  2. Spaulding’s legacy will continue -MAJ
  3. J’cans urged to produce more coffee for Chinese market
  4. Verdict for Ninjaman expected today
  5. Security heightened for tourism summit
  6. Right call made for JC supergoal?

1. Authorities probe viral video of mother beating child

The Child Protection and Family Services Agency and the police are probing an incident in which a mother was seen in a video violently  beating her child with a belt and repeatedly threatening to kill her. The child appears to be about four years old. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. Spaulding’s legacy will continue -MAJ

The following is a tribute to the late J.A. Lester Spaulding, chairman of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group, from the Media Association Jamaica Limited: The Media Association Jamaica Ltd (MAJ) wishes to express sincerest condolences to the family of J. A. Lester Spaulding, CD, JP, chairman of Radio Jamaica Limited, who passed away on Friday, November 17, 2017. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

3. Ja urged to produce more coffee for Chinese market

China’s huge population and ready-made market can potentially absorb all the coffee Jamaica produces, says Chinese ambassador to Jamaica, Niu Qingbao. The Chinese diplomat said that even though the Japanese have done a good job importing Jamaican coffee over the past decades, he was sure Jamaica could do with an even larger market for the product, pointing to his own country as a massive potential market. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4.Verdict for Ninjaman expected today

There could be a verdict today in the murder case against dancehall entertainer Ninjaman. Ninjaman, whose given name is Desmond Ballentine, is on trial along with his son, Janeil, and another man, Dennis Clayton, for the fatal shooting of Ricardo Johnson, also known as Ricky Trooper, in the Lower Mall Road community in 2009. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

5. Security heightened for tourism summit

Local organisers of one of the biggest tourism conferences in the world are confident that the more than 800 visitors expected in Montego Bay will be safe despite the high murder rate in St James since the start of this year. Almost 300 people have been killed in St James since the start of the year, but visitors to the island’s tourism capital have been largely safe, and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says everything is in place to keep it that way. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. Right call made for JC supergoal?

Former FIFA referee Peter Prendergast has said that referee Leon Brown made the correct call by disallowing a free-kick goal to Jamaica College (JC) in their semi-final encounter with Kingston College (KC) in the ISSA-FLOW Super Cup at Sabina Park on Saturday. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

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6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. INDECOM probes three shootings
  2. MOE given standards for goal posts and playground equipment
  3. Fewer babies in 2017
  4. Crime strangling Ja’s growth
  5. 250 graduate from Caribbean Maritime University
  6. Labour Ministry to launch job mapping app

1. INDECOM probes three shootings

The Independent Commission of Investigations, INDECOM is probing three shooting incidents yesterday. The incidents resulted in the death of two men and the injury of another. In the first incident, a motor cyclist was shot and injured by a member of the Constant Spring branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) who were on patrol in the Manor Park area shortly after 4 yesterday morning. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. MOE given standards for goal posts and playground equipment

​The Bureau of Standards Jamaica has handed over 900 standards geared towards protecting the safety of children at play and providing guidance for socially acceptable behaviour to the Ministry of Education (MOE), Youth and Information. The standards were handed over to portfolio Minister, Senator Ruel Reid by Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karl Samuda on Wednesday. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

3. Fewer babies in 2017

The Government’s decision to issue a Zika virus advisory last year urging women to delay pregnancy is being pointed to as one of the main reasons for a 22 per cent decline in live births in Jamaica between January and March this year when compared to the same period last year. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4. Crime strangling Ja’s growth

Youth unemployment in the Caribbean is said to be the highest in the world, and crime, partly fuelled by this high rate of joblessness, is a major obstacle to economic growth in the region, according to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

5. 250 graduate from Caribbean Maritime University

The newly chartered Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) on Tuesday graduated its first cohort of students to be certified since the institution’s formal upgrading in September. Approximately 250 students were conferred with master’s and bachelor’s degrees and diplomas during the graduation ceremony at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, having successfully completed studies in a wide cross section of programmes over the past four years. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. Labour Ministry to launch job mapping app

​Jamaica’s labour ministry says it will roll out a mobile app by next March to make it easier to match job-seekers with employment opportunities posted on its electronic labour exchange website by firms wanting to hire workers. The exchange is part of the wider Labour Market Information System (LMIS). See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

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Tips & Tricks to Afford Restaurant Week on a Budget

So, it’s here again. Restaurant Week is a time when people get together and take the opportunity to enjoy fine dining on a budget. Despite the great deals and price packages available during this period, there are still some persons who struggle to afford even one evening out. And there are those who can afford it, but are still looking for ways to get as much value as they can for their dollar. Here are some tips and tricks for ways that you can save money while getting in on the fine dining experience:

1. Make it a lunch.

Many restaurants have bargains and discounts to attract lunchtime crowds. It can therefore work out cheaper for you to schedule your dining-out experience during their lunch-hour specials. To make it even more fun and expand the experience, set a date with some coworkers and make it a group lunch outing. In Jamaica, most restaurants observe lunch between 12 and 2 p.m.

2. Split the meal

In some restaurants, the servings of food are so large, they can easily be split between two persons and still provide sufficient sustenance – or something close enough. How about it? Pair up with a friend, and, instead of ordering individual dishes, decide on one dish and just split it in two. Chinese restaurants are particularly popular places to get meals in servings that can suffice for more than one persons.

3. Bring a group, order a platter.

Fine dining can be expensive, especially when one embarks on the adventure alone. It may work out cheaper if you don’t go solo. Instead, get a group of friends together and then agree to split the bill for one or two platters. This usually works out far cheaper than the cost of ordering individual dishes.

4. Skip drinks.

Many people do this when they eat out. Instead of ordering from what usually is an expensive drink menu, they skip drinks altogether and ask for water. Just be sure to make it clear that you want regular tap water or water from a jug, and not bottled water, which usually carries a premium price and would defeat the purpose of skipping drinks.

5. Do one course only.

Who says you need to have all three courses in order to enjoy your fine dining experience? Sometimes, all it takes is one good entree. Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest thing on the menu. Choose something interesting, different, and exciting for you and just have that. Then do yourself a favour: Savour the experience, allow your palate to fully explore the subtleties of flavour and texture. Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time, fully appreciate the dish before you and the ambience of your chosen restaurant, and make the experience one to remember.

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6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. First 4 schools get metal detectors
  2. NCDA targets shopkeepers to cut down on drug abuse among minors
  3. Carter case historic, says JOA boss
  4. CAS to make Carter ruling in 2018
  5. Gov’t revises MSME policy
  6. Gov’t to repair rain-damaged roads

1. First 4 schools get metal detectors

Education Minister Ruel Reid yesterday named the first four schools that will be fitted with walk-through and hand-held metal detectors as the Government responds to a rash of stabbing incidents at some of the island’s most troubled schools. At the top of the list is the Edith Dalton-James High School in Kingston where 15-year-old Clive Matherson, a grade 10 student, was stabbed to death by a classmate last month. The incident allegedly stemmed from an altercation over a watch. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. NCDA targets shopkeepers to cut down on drug abuse among minors

Shopkeepers and other retail vendors are among a number of stakeholders that Collette Kirlew, director of client services at the National Council on Drug Abuse, intends to target. Kirlew said that illegal substances are too accessible to minors and called for better enforcement in such instances. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

Jamaican athletes Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce and Nesta Carter

3. Carter case historic, says JOA boss

Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) President Christopher Samuda has said that he believes that Olympian Nesta Carter will be cleared of any wrongdoing despite testing positive for a banned substance retrospectively found in his urine sample from the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

4. CAS to make Carter ruling in 2018

Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter has testified at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal against disqualification from the 2008 Olympics in a doping case that cost Usain Bolt a 4x100m relay gold medal. Carter shielded his face from media on arriving at sport’s highest court on Wednesday for a closed-doors hearing that ended around seven hours later. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

5. Gov’t revises MSME policy

The government has revised the definition for micro-, small- and medium-sized (MSME) enterprises to make it easier for them to operate. Commerce Minister Karl Samuda told Parliament yesterday that the review was necessary to allow MSMEs to adequately meet the changing socio-economic environment within which they operate. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. Gov’t to repair rain-damaged roads

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the government will be embarking on a programme to repair roads that have been damaged by the ongoing rains. The island has been experiencing almost daily rainfall for the past three to four weeks, which has caused potholes and other damage to the road infrastructure. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

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Primary Education in Jamaica: From Common Entrance to GSAT to PEP

Primary education in Jamaica has undergone many changes over the years. The eras can be defined by the exit examinations that students have been required to take in order to get placement into higher education system. The first notable exam that primary school students were required to sit was the Common Entrance Examination (CEE). For many years, even before Jamaica’s Independence, this was the exam that determined which students got access to secondary level education. As calls for the development of a more inclusive curriculum increased, the National Assessment Programme (NAP) was created. Through NAP, the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT)  was introduced. GSAT has reigned as the determiner of primary school students’ fates for almost two decades, and now, Jamaica is on the verge of yet another transition. This time to the Primary Exit Profile (PEP). Here is a brief synopsis of the exams that have been deciding primary students’ lives over the years.

Common Entrance Examination

Introduced to Jamaica in 1957, the first Common Entrance Examination (CEE) was conducted in 1958. The exam was widely welcomed because it created greater access to secondary schools for more Jamaican children. While the structure and outcome of the exam was still somewhat classist, the CEE represented vast improvement over what existed before, and was the strategy used by Government to allocate high-school places to primary and prep school children.

According to Martin Henry:

“A Norman Manley administration, with Florizel Glasspole as minister of education, introduced the CEE in 1958, which offered an unprecedented 2,000 free places in high schools each year. Prior to the CEE, the majority of high-school students were the fee-paying children of the well-to-do, with only a handful of parish scholarships available through which the bright poor could gain access. The CEE, an entrance examination pure and simple, offered merit-based scholarships to a far larger number of children, revolutionising access to secondary education.

“But the CEE soon hit major snags. While increasing the capacity of existing high schools, about 45 of them from colonial times, the Government did precious little to increase the number of schools. St Thomas, for instance, did not have even one high school before 1960. It soon became obvious that the children of the better off, benefiting from fee-paying private prep school education, were seriously outperforming children in government primary schools for scarce high-school places.

To rectify the problem, the Government of the 1960s, early into Independence, with Edwin Allen as minister of education, introduced the 70:30 ratio in favour of the far more numerous but more weakly performing primary-school students.”

Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT)

The Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) was part of a major shift in Jamaica’s education system in the 1990s that came with the beginning of the National Assessment Programme (NAP). This programme comprised a Grade One Readiness Inventory, a Grade Three Diagnostic Test in English and mathematics, a Grade Four Literacy Test, and the Grade Six Achievement Test. This development created a platform from which students could be effectively monitored and assessed from various levels of the education system, prompting earlier and more beneficial interventions. GSAT also represented a major step toward a fuller inclusion of ALL Jamaican students in the secondary education system, coming on the heels of reforms to the structure of secondary education in Jamaica, which included the abolition of the secondary school system and the upgrading of most secondary schools to high schools.

Primary Exit Profile (PEP)

The Primary Exit Profile, or PEP, is the Ministry of Education’s new way of determining whether a student is ready to leave Grade Six and enter high school. It will replace the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), and should provide a better and more complete profile of students’ academic and critical thinking capabilities at the end of primary-level education. For more on PEP, see our article breaking down the differences between GSAT and PEP.

Sources:
Martin Henry’s ‘Education in Independence’
The Gleaner’s Newspaper Archives

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6 Things You Need To Know Today

Your news in a nutshell

  1. Public sector workers for NIDS trial
  2. PNP to explore all options over NIDS
  3. Gov’t considers purchasing Venezuela’s stake in Petrojam
  4. Carter facing appeal against Beijing 2008 ban
  5. Leaner public sector coming
  6. 15 of 19 police divisions report spike in murders

1. Public sector workers for NIDS trial

Public-sector workers will become the guinea pigs of the National Identification System (NIDS) rollout as they have been selected for the pilot programme for the collection of biometric data to produce a unique identification number for all Jamaicans. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

2. PNP to explore all options over NIDS

President of the People’s National Party (PNP) Dr Peter Phillips says the party is prepared to pursue all avenues including the courts to secure changes to the proposed National Identification and Registration Act. Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Phillips said the party maintains its view that the bill has too many flaws. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

3. Gov’t  considers purchasing Venezuela stake in Petrojam

The Government of Jamaica is considering repurchasing the Venezuelan government’s stake in Petrojam after an executive order by US president Donald Trump put the state entity in a precarious position. In August, Trump issued additional sanctions on Venezuela amid the ongoing economic and political turmoil in that country. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

Jamaican athletes Shelly Ann Fraser and Nesta Carter

4. Carter facing appeal against Beijing 2008 ban

Experienced Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter is today arguing his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as he appeals his disqualification from the 2008 Olympic Games for a doping violation. Carter was scratched from the Beijng Games after testing positive for the banned substance methylhexaneamine in a reanalysis programme covering stored samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.  See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

5. Leaner public sector coming

That’s the word from Prime Minister Andrew Holness as he piloted a bill in Parliament yesterday to abolish the Road Maintenance Fund and transfer its functions to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation by March 2018. Holness reminded his parliamentary colleagues that the Government had announced earlier this year that it would close at least five public bodies by the end of 2017. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

6. 15 of 19 police divisions report spike in murders

All but four of the 19 police divisions across the island have reported an increase in murders, some by more than 100 per cent, as the bloodletting by marauding criminals continues unabated. At the top of the list, according to the latest statistics compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), is the St James Police Division, which is closing in on a record 300 reported murders in a calendar year. See full story on The Gleaner’s website.

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What You Need To Know About Jamaica’s Primary Exit Profile (PEP)

News media and education circles in Jamaica have been abuzz following the announcement from Education Minister Ruel Reid that the Primary Exit Profile will replace the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). Since its implementation in 1999, GSAT has been the assessment used to determine high school placement for students at the end of the primary education system. The Primary Exit Profile (PEP) is being proposed as a more holistic way to determine students’ readiness to exit the primary level of education, and to enter secondary school. Here are some questions that the average person might be asking about PEP.

What is the Primary Exit Profile (PEP)?

The Primary Exit Profile, or PEP, is the Ministry of Education’s new way of determining whether a student is ready to leave Grade Six and enter high school. It will replace the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), and should provide a better and more complete profile of students’ academic and critical thinking capabilities at the end of primary-level education.

When does the MOE want to implement this?

The PEP roll-out is scheduled for the start of the academic year 2018-19 (i.e., September 2018) on a phased basis. Students who are in grade five now will be the first official PEP cohort. They will do only the Grade Six components in 2019. Students who are currently in Grade Three will be the first cohort that will have a complete profile generated. This means that they will do the grade four performance task in 2019, grade five performance task in 2020 and all grade-six components in 2021. Students who are currently in grade-four will do their grade-five Performance Task in 2019 and in 2020 they will do the grade-six components.

Why are they replacing GSAT with PEP?

The Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) is curriculum-based, and 50% of the items on the test assess students’ ability to recall information. By contrast, PEP is designed to focus on what the Ministry of Education terms “higher order cognitive skills”. It will not just assess the student’s ability to remember information, but also their ability to think critically, effectively process information, and be creative. This eliminates swatting and encourages the development of real thought and better understanding.

Additionally, PEP is designed to test only the information students are taught in Grade Six, eliminating the pressure GSAT students currently undergo to study material from grade four to six for the exam. It is also proposed that the PEP exam takes place in June, which would give schools more teaching and exam prep time.

According to The Gleaner article ‘All Set For PEP’, PEP also provides the following advantages:

– More accurate evidence-based information in terms of students’ performance will be available.

– Students’ completion of the curriculum and their progress will be monitored more regularly.

– More opportunities will be provided for teachers to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses and therefore plan lessons to meet the specific needs of students.

– Students will become aware of their progress and teachers will work with students to improve their learning.

 

Sources:
Ministry of Education Ministry Paper Curriculum & Assessment
‘All set for PEP’
‘Education Ministry Confident Step Towards PEP will Improve Student Outcome’
Jamaica Teachers’ Association ‘The More Things Change’

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