Ill-con­ceived PEP

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - EDITORIAL | LETTERS -

Dear Edi­tor,

Fad­dish think­ing seems to be re­plac­ing pol­icy at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. This could be the only log­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the Pri­mary Exit Pro­file exam (PEP).

Pol­i­cy­mak­ers are posit­ing that PEP, which will be re­plac­ing the Grade Six Achieve­ment Test (GSAT), will em­pha­sise crit­i­cal think­ing. The fal­lacy of this ar­gu­ment is that a mul­ti­ple choice exam does not re­quire think­ing skills. Mul­ti­ple choice ex­ams can be as dif­fi­cult as a writ­ten pa­per and, in some sce­nar­ios, may even re­quire more crit­i­cal think­ing be­cause the an­swers are in such close prox­im­ity.

Lo­cal pol­icy an­a­lysts are in­flu­enced by the present trend in ed­u­ca­tion that de-em­pha­sises the role of knowl­edge. Crit­i­cal think­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and cre­ativ­ity are now some of the plat­i­tudes be­ing spewed by ed­u­ca­tion­ists. In Ja­maica, these words are termed the 4Cs.

How­ever, stu­dents will not be­come pro­fi­cient in any of the 4Cs un­til they de­velop ex­per­tise in a va­ri­ety of top­ics. The prob­lem with PEP is that it will de­mand 10- and 11-year-old stu­dents to com­plete com­plex tasks that will en­tail su­pe­rior skills in re­search and quan­ti­ta­tive analy­ses, yet many of their in­struc­tors are de­fi­cient in such ar­eas.

For ex­am­ple, the PEP cur­ricu­lum will in­volve the anal­y­sis of sources by stu­dents. Though a stan­dard prac­tice in academia, at the pri­mary level this is not nec­es­sary. A num­ber of fac­tors rang­ing from the bias of the au­thor to method­olog­i­cal in­con­sis­ten­cies can af­fect the cred­i­bil­ity of a study. There­fore, it would make no sense to teach chil­dren to use an au­thor­i­ta­tive source, with­out ex­plain­ing that author­ity alone does not make re­search valid.

Fur­ther­more, un­der the PEP cur­ricu­lum pupils shall be ex­pected to ap­ply the knowl­edge gained in

The scene of garbage bags with cut grass on fire.

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