Education Ministry to assist special needs student sitting PEP exam

Fayval Williams
Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams. Courtesy of Jamaica information Service.

According to a recent news release, students with special needs or long-term medical conditions, who are slated to sit this year’s Grade Six Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations between 16 February and 27April, will receive adequate support to do so from the Ministry of Education and Youth. This will be facilitated through the Ministry’s Special Needs Unit.

Assistant chief education officer in the unit, Dionne Gayle, indicated that the requisite arrangements will be made to accommodate the students within classrooms, homes, hospitals, or any other location where the exam can be facilitated. This, she noted, is based on assessment reports submitted to the Ministry by the youngsters’ parents. “For example, [for] a student with a specific learning disorder in reading, the report would have to say that [they] can get a reader for their examination [or] a student with a specific learning disorder, let’s say with handwriting, can get a writer,” she said. Additionally, any student diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will benefit from the support of a prompter who, according to Ms. Gayle, usually sits behind the youngster and monitors their attention span. This includes a tap on the shoulder, when necessary. ADHD students are also allowed to take breaks throughout the exam. “Once [a student is afforded] accommodation [in this regard], it is international standard where [they would] get extra time automatically [during the exam],” Gayle further pointed out.

Parents who are concerned that their child may have a disorder, are encouraged to arrange for the youngster to be assessed by a clinical psychologist as soon as possible. “We have private entities [that offer assessment services] and then there’s the Micro Care Centre, which is an agency of the [Education] Ministry. Then within the Ministry, we have what we call the Student Support Team, that would offer this service as well,” Gayle indicated.

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