The decision by the Ministry of Education to stop offering the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination has turned out to be both ill-advised and foolhardy.
At the time the decision was taken the education ministry
said the SSC examinations had lost its relevance in the society. The Ministry
of Education announced then that a more relevant high school diploma would
replace the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations.
The SSC Examination was introduced in the 1970,s and served
as an exit exam for many students after their five year stint at the secondary
level. Many years have passed since the education ministry announced plans for
a more relevant replacement exam and we are still waiting to see the rolling
out of the high school diploma replacement examination. Consequently, thousands
of students have graduated from high schools across Jamaica without any form of
certification. The fact is the SSC examination was very much relevant. A
student with a pass at range 4 or 5 could have used those subjects to matriculate
into tertiary level institutions as well as to enter the world of work.
The SSC examinations primarily
targeted students of non-traditional high schools who were not at the required
level to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams. Nothing is wrong with having changes;
especially since the process of education is constantly evolving. However, we
should not have stopped the SSC examination without first implementing a
replacement examination. As we approach yet another examination period in the
academic year the sad reality is that another cohort of Jamaican students will
be leaving various high schools without any form of certification. We have done
a grave disservice to countless number of poor people’s children. The Ministry
of Education needs to move with a sense of urgency in order to ensure that 2014
is the final year students will be graduating from high schools without having
a national examination in place to certify them.