For the next two days, parents, guardians, teachers and children alike restlessly, breathlessly, await the results of the Common Entrance Examination.
With news that Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw will release the results on Monday at 10 a.m., the weekend is bound to produce sleepless nights, as parents and their primary school charges wait anxiously to see if their ten and eleven-year-old achieved the scores to gain entry to their preferred schools. Or didn’t.
And although those results will be known in just over 48 hours, the Ministry of Education has already been bombarded with calls by parents and guardians seeking advance news on which secondary school their child will be attending come September.
But this may be the last time, if not one of the last, such nerves are required, we are told.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley recently announced the coming abolition of the Common Entrance, leading to a more diverse pool of academic opportunities.
Mottley said that over the next six months the Education Minister would be tasked with overseeing the abolition of the exam and the creation of middle schools.
Said the PM: “All of us know you cannot discard people at 11 and 12 years old like if they are going on the dump heap of life and everybody is telling them that they haven’t passed.
“We have reached the point where we need to reject an approach to education that was settled by the British in the 1940’s.”
For quite some time, there has been a call for the so-called 11-Plus exam, to be discarded.
Many believe its method of allocating children to secondary schools based solely on English and Mathematics scores is counterproductive and does more harm than good.
It is hoped though, that whatever is conceptualised to replace the Common Entrance will fully embrace the myriad of skills possessed by ten and 11-year-olds.
At long last, the focus must not be merely on two subjects alone but capitalise on an individual’s budding skill set.
At such a young age, our children should not be made to feel as if they have underachieved or failed, simply because they did not score the marks to attend a particular school – which in most instances is chosen by a parent, whose ego gets in the way of a sobering, informed assessment of the child’s abilities.
Children can no longer be condemned as failures or underachievers simply because the areas in which they are skilled or gifted were not part of a two-dimensional exam.
The Prime Minister said: “There is no doubt in my mind that what we are facing is people who have been ignored and discarded and for whom there has not been sufficient attention. Everybody has a talent.
“Every single human being has a talent.
“Every child has a talent and we are discarding too many and we are paying the price.”
There is no reason why at age ten or 11, a child should be made to feel that his entire life is to be determined by how he performs in a single examination in a single day.
That is too much pressure for a child.
The transition from primary to secondary school should be a seamless one, and one which presents no surprises for teacher, parent, or child, as their performances throughout their short school life should have already highlighted their strengths and weaknesses.
It is from that assessment that a child’s placement in a secondary school should be determined.
The days of parents and children enduring heart palpitations as they await the results of a primary school exam will soon be over.
Hopefully, its replacement will be far less harmful and much more productive.