By now, the majority of persons whose children will write the Barbados Secondary Schools??? Entrance Examination (BSSEE) would have handed in their Choice of School Forms to principals of primary schools across the island.

However, with the expectation that some may be tardy, there is still much they can glean from perusing the 2016 Guide on Government Secondary Schools, published by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.

The Guide can be considered useful reading for any parent ??? even those with children slated to write the BSSEE in the near future.

From the outset, the message from Education Minister, Ronald Jones, is instructive, reminding parents/guardians that consultation with their child???s principal and class teacher can aid them in any final decision.

Mr. Jones further encourages them to utilise all available options and be mindful of the importance of the order and number of schools they choose. These are all worthy of consideration, particularly since every year, and following the results of the BSSEE, parents are told transfers to other schools would not be accommodated.

This year???s examination is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 and, as with previous years, it will be taken at the 22 secondary schools across the island from 9:00 a.m.??While wishing the students success in the examination, Mr. Jones, a former teacher, reminds them that as they enter secondary school there will be exposure to different levels of certification.

Included among these are the traditional Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competency (CCSLC) and the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ), which were recently introduced.

Additionally, the Minister makes mention of A Ganar, a new and exciting developmental programme that has been implemented at some secondary schools. A Ganar forms part of Component II of the US $20 million Government of Barbados/IDB Skills For The Future Program, being executed by the Ministry.

The programme uses sports for development as a tool to educate and employ at-risk youth, and its key aim is to increase the employability of young people and better prepare them to enter the world of work.

???There is a world of opportunities awaiting your child at secondary school. Let us encourage them to participate in the academic, non-academic and extra-curricular activities so that they can develop to their full potential,??? says Minister Jones, clearly alluding to the fact that schools can be selected on the basis of extra-curricular as much as academic performance to prepare their charges for the future ahead.

The publication, like the town hall meetings held in December 2015, gives insight into the many processes involved and challenges encountered in the administration of the BSSEE, familiarly known as the Common Entrance Examination or 11-Plus.

It offers details on each secondary school; flexible transfer; partial zoning with details on the three zones into which schools fall; and requirements for candidates with special difficulties, as well as non-national students.

Moreover, it provides templates of forms, including the Choice of School, which seems yearly to pique the interest of most at town hall meetings. The 2016 Guide further reminds parents that there are only two open choices where they will be allowed to choose a maximum of two schools from anywhere in the island (including the zone in which the child resides).

Following this, a maximum of seven schools may be selected from the secondary schools within the zone in which the child resides. A school from the zone which is chosen in the open choices cannot be repeated among the choices from the zone category.

Equally important to note is the final statement in the document regarding the Review of Scripts. According to the Guide, those querying results related to a child???s examination paper should note that: ???All requests for review of scripts must reach the Senior Education Officer of the Examination and Assessment Section??? no later than Thursday, June 30, 2016.

With the foregoing in mind and over three months to go before the May examination, it is undoubtedly safe to conclude that proper attention paid to the 2016 Guide on Government Secondary Schools, prior to making decisions, will augur well for students, parents and guardians.

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