Education Ministry fails to inform schools about mandatory sixth form
Most students would have been prepping for university after fifth form, but that is no longer the reality. The Ministry of Education has placed a stop order on fifth form graduations and high school students will now have to continue their studies for another two years before they can graduate.
This news from the Ministry of Education came as a shock to some. Paulette Archer, a teacher at the St Andrew’s Technical High School said that she knew nothing about the plans of the Ministry, ‘I just saw newspaper clippings, and there was no consultation with the teaching body’, said Archer.
In addition, Winston Smith, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association president said he had not been fully briefed on the matter and was in the process of having meetings with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Archer wonders how this plan by the Ministry would be implemented as this would place additional stress on teachers who were not qualified to teach at the sixth form level. Some teachers only have a Diploma in teaching and sixth form requires teachers with at least a bachelor’s degree. “CSEC teachers cannot teach CAPE”, said Archer ‘it’s two different subject levels’.
From the perspective of high school students, they would have had their plans as to whether it was to continue to sixth form after graduation, work, go overseas or attend university. Tavania Bulgin, a fifth-form student shared, ‘I was planning to go to sixth form’ so this would not have been a disappointment for her. Bulgin said that some students were not financially equipped to pay for sixth form.
Bulgin highlights the uncertainty surrounding the issue as the school fee for sixth form is normally higher than the normal school fee. Sixth form was seen as pre-university. Furthermore, Bulgin reported that her teacher had said that the Ministry had not reached out or did any type of research to come to such a decision. She also wondered if there would be both virtual and physical school to facilitate the Ministry’s plan.
Another high school student said, “sixth form was not on their mind’. They were planning to graduate or go to university. Adrian Rhoden, fifth form student commented, “me frighten when me hear about mandatory sixth form”.
While Archer is not against the plan of Minister, she observed that it would have been better if the teachers were consulted about this action, as the high schools in Jamaica were not prepared. There were not enough CAPE teachers and not enough space to accommodate these students.