Kingston - June 28, 2011 - Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has said that the Government will be introducing a performance-based national school leaving certificate for high school leavers.

The Minister, who was addressing a graduation ceremony yesterday June 26 at the Convent of Mercy (Alpha) Academy, said that the initiative, which will be fully implemented in all secondary schools within the next two years, comes out of concern “about the quality of graduates we turn out of the system each year."

He explained that all schools will be required to provide the Ministry with data on the performance of students over their five years of secondary education, which will take into consideration their academic achievement, co-curricular participation, and behaviour.

“Based on those three elements of your profile, you would be given a national school-leaving certificate...we believe that will add significant value to the graduate as a document certifying your achievement in high school. You could take that to an employer and that would give your employer greater detail about yourself, about your competence and about your potential,” he informed.

According to the Education Minister, instituting this certificate would solve the longstanding debate as to whether graduation should be tied to academic and co-curricular performance or merely signify one has completed five years of high school education.

“Because, then you would have an objective nation-wide basis on which to determine, who should graduate and who should not...so then graduation will become a performance-related ceremony,” he said.

The Minister said that while much emphasis tends to be placed on students’ academic performance, he contended that education also involved the development of other cognitive and social skills.

“We tend to only focus on the academic development of our students and what the data is showing clearly, both at the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) level and at the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) level, is that we are producing students who may know the content of the curriculum, but in terms of their behaviour, the affective domain of their development, their emotional control, civility, critical thinking, creativity and innovation...we can’t really say that we are producing a significant number of those students from our high school system,” he lamented.

“I’m very worried that we are turning out of our schools, generations and generations of graduates, who have not adjusted socially...graduates who are not quite grounded in a value system that promotes self-development in a positive way, promotes economic development in a positive way,” he added.

Minister Holness said since the national school-leaving certificate would place focus on more than just the student’s academic performance, the document would  also ensure that more well-rounded individuals are turned out of the high school system.