They endured long hours of studying, going over practice papers day daily to get a qualifying average that will help them transition from primary to secondary school.
The results are in! Of the 141 children that sat the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) across the Child Development Agency’s four regions (South East, North East, Southern and Western); 53 passes accounted for children in child care institutions, 83 in the Agency’s Living in Family Environment (L.I.F.E) Programme (56 in Foster Care, eight (8) in Family Reintegration and one (1) on Supervision Order),18 currently on Home on Trial (HoT). Of the total passes there are 75 girls and 62 boys.
The L.I.F.E Programme is a more desirable alternative to residential care for children in need of care and protection, which includes foster care, adoption, family reintegration, and supervision order.
Giving feedback about the children’s accomplishments, Director for CDA’s Children and Family Programmes, Audrey Budhi says she is ecstatic that 98 percent of the children who sat the Exam earned a place in a high school, which shows that they have the potential to excel academically.
“All children in State who are at the required age and able to sit GSAT did so which is mandatory. We know that education is the vehicle which will help our children to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty, and become men and women of tomorrow; so we have to educate them, because it’s their fundamental right,” she said.
She adds that some of the children who sat the GSAT have received averages ranging from 45 to 95 percent, adding that, “Those with the higher averages were placed at the schools of their choice which is commendable,” she said.
Referring to the Ministry of Education Youth and Information’s (MoEYI) tagline, “Every Child Can Learn, Every Child Must Learn,” she said that the CDA continues to play its part with the support of the Ministry, to invest in the education of children in the child protection system, enabling them reach their fullest potential.
She highlighted that in keeping with the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA), the Agency believes in promoting early childhood education and development which occurs during the first formative years of a child’s life.
“The years from conception through birth to eight years of age are really critical to the complete and healthy cognitive, emotional and physical growth of children. We ensure that all our children in care from as early as age two are being educated, coupled with proper nutrition at the pre-school, through to tertiary level, once they have the ability and express the desire to excel educationally,” she said.
She says that the Agency continues to place emphasis on strengthening its monitoring regime in both private and State-run facilities, thus ensuring that there is compliance with respect to the regulations implemented.
Against this background, the Programmes Director explains that each child is assigned a case worker, who conducts regular assessments to determine if there are any gaps that need to be filled regarding the progress of each child, holistically.
“In all our facilities and homes that our children are placed, regular announced/ unannounced visits are done to ensure that our children are safe and happy in keeping with our mandate,’ she said.
Turning her attention to the homework programme in place at some of the facilities; she informs that the children have been benefiting from the initiative, immensely.
“We have homework programmes in most of our facilities that are administered by our caregivers, for GSAT mainly. In some of the facilities, volunteers and past wards give back by assisting the children with their studies, such as Grade Four Literacy Test, GSAT, CSEC and CAPE,” CDA’s Programmes Director said.
Miss Budhi adds that all children who are enrolled in regular schools benefit from GSAT extra lessons during the week and on Saturdays to ensure that they are fully prepared.
Lauding the caregivers, foster parents, teachers, parents, guardians, counselors and all who contributed to the children being successful in the GSAT; she encouraged them to continue to assist the youngsters to strive for greatness, because without their support and dedication, many of them would not have made it this far.
“It takes a person with a big heart to care for a child that is not biologically theirs. These children are entrusted in our care, so we have to do our very best to love, care and protect them; while ensuring that their needs are met, enabling them to function effectively in the society, upon leaving Sate care,’ Miss Budhi said
Miss Budhi alludes that the Agency will soon host a special event for the awardees to honour and prepare them for the transition from primary to high school.
“Transitioning from primary to high school can be challenging for most children, so we will use this medium to help our children to make a smooth change. The event will feature a variety of presentations and activities, conducive to their needs,” she says.
Some of the high schools that the children will be attending include Calabar, Excelsior, St. Hughs, Vauxhall, Jamaica College, Mona, Oberlin, St. Elizabeth Technical Holmwood Technical, Porus, Vere Technical, Guys Hill, Muschette, Charlemont, Manning’s, William Knibb Memorial, Mt. Alvernia, York Castle, Ocho Rios and others.
Contact: Child Development Agency
Public Relations Unit