Twelve year old Kela Williams of New Day Primary and Junior High has her sights set on being an attorney-at-law. Kela feels she has taken an important step on that journey to her life’s goal, by achieving excellent passes in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). She has outperformed her peers to become the top GSAT student in the innercity community of Grants Pen. “I am feeling very happy that I have passed. I am looking forward to attending Immaculate Conception High which was my first choice,” said Kela, with joy evident in her voice. Kela was involved in the GSAT coaching project run by USAID-Community Empowerment and Transformation (COMET) and the e-learning company, GoGSAT. Kela is confident that the GSAT Project helped her in her preparations for the exams.
The top male GSAT student from Grants Pen who was involved in the GSAT coaching programme is Junior McKenzie. He also attends New Day Primary and Junior High. Junior has earned a place at Kingston College by racking up scores of 90 for Maths, 90 for Social Studies, 82 for Language Arts, 74 for Science and 8 out of 12 for Communication Tasks. Nelka Clarke, Administrator of the Grants Pen Cyber Centre, who was responsible for coordinating the GSAT project, believes the programme has been instrumental in empowering students in Grants Pen to do better in GSAT this year than in previous years. Over 80 percent of the students who participated in the entire programme have received excellent grades in the GSAT exams and are off to traditional and non-traditional high schools, according to the coordinators of the programme. “Most of the students who were involved in the programme from the start to the finish did very well. We have not had such good passes in Grants Pen in a long time,” Ms. Clarke disclosed.
A similar situation exists in Flanker, which also benefited from the USAIDCOMET/ GoGSAT Programme. “Many of the children did well in GSAT”, stated Marilyn Nash, Head of the Flanker Peace and Justice Centre, one of the facilities used by students in the GSAT coaching programme. “We are expecting an even greater performance from the Grade 5 students who are now involved in the programme, since they will have a longer time to prepare.” Ashley Thompson of Flanker Primary and Junior High has achieved a place at Mount Alvernia High. She feels the GSAT coaching programme played a major role in her preparations for the Maths and Science components of the GSAT exams. “I was not up to scratch in Maths and Science, but I know the GSAT project helped me a great deal. After the many weeks of practice tests I went in the exams confident that I would do well,” said Ashley whose ambition is to be a physician or teacher.
Grants Pen in St. Andrew, Flanker in St. James and Central Village/White Marl in St. Catherine participated in the first phase of the joint venture initiative between USAID-COMET and GoGSAT, which began in mid-January and ended on March 12. The USAID-COMET Project paid the subscription rates for 45 students in each of the communities, to receive timed on-line practice tests to build their familiarity with the material and the process for GSAT. The second phase of the programme started recently for Grade 5 students in all three communities.