Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Whiteman says JLP ad about CXC passes untrue
Observer Reporter
Wednesday, September 25, 2002




Education minister Burchell Whiteman said yesterday that weekend newspaper advertisement by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party that "seven out of 10 high school graduates don't pass CXCs" was untrue.

"It is palpably false. All the documentation from the CXC itself over the years ... shows that that is not true," Whiteman told reporters at his monthly press briefing in Kingston.

He cited, as an example, the 2001 CXC results which showed that only about 19.8 per cent of the candidates failed to get a single subject. On the other hand, 26.5 per cent, he said had attained five or more subjects.

"These wild statements are a little unfortunate," Whiteman told reporters.

Said Whiteman: "I know that it is fashionable in some quarters to downplay the achievements of the country ... I'm not talking about the government now, (but) the achievements of the country, in order to make a case for your rise to government. But I think one must always be very careful to be accurate and to ensure that you don't destroy the morale of all of those who work in the system, including teachers, students, school officials, administrators and the like."

And responding to reports about GCE 'A' Level grade fixing by several British examining bodies, Whiteman said he has not yet received any complaint from a school in Jamaica about the results.

"They (principals) have not said to us, listen there are so many that we think it is unfair to ask us to bear that cost. They haven't said that yet (so) we will await that.

If we are satisfied that there is some very high level of error or sufficient evidence as to warrant a major investigation then we would (investigate)," said the minister.

Last week, Cambridge, Oxford and RSA admitted to lowering A Level exam grades to ensure that this year's results were the same as last year's.

The disclosure brought protests from a number of high school associations in Britain, and British Education Secretary Estelle Morris ordered thousands of A Level papers to be remarked.

In an article published in the Sunday Observer, president of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary School, Branford Gayle said at least 10 schools would be querying an inordinately high number of ungraded scores in at least two subjects.

Gayle told the Observer yesterday that another six schools were in the process of submitting their queries to Cambridge through the Overseas Examinations Office. One of them, he said is St Andrew High School in Kingston, which has reportedly paid $100,000 to query dozens of results. St Andrew High principal, Sharon Reid, could not be contacted for a comment.

Director of the examination office, Beryl Urquhart, said since the exam results were issued nearly a month ago, queries have been coming in, however the number was not unusually higher than in past years.

"One deterrent might be the cost factor," Urquhart admitted.

She said it costs between 25 and 120 pounds for a recheck of students results. A full clerical recheck of a student's script costs 25 pounds per subject; a remark which includes full clerical recheck costs 50 pounds, but if the candidate wants a remark, with a full clerical recheck and a detailed report on his or her performance, the cost is 120 pounds.

At the press conference, Loretta Reid-Pitt, project manager from the Social Conflict And Legal Reform project (SCLR) gave the ministry a set of 26 books on conflict resolution. The SCLR is a joint Jamaica and Canada project being piloted in the communities of Trench Town, Kingston and Flankers in St James.

Whiteman also said a Personal Development Activities Manual for teachers will be launched next Thursday. The manual seeks to develop skills and attitudes among the school population, aged 12 and upwards and consists of five units: Self Development and Interpersonal Skills, Citizenship, Conflict Resolution, Family Life and Work Ethics.