J.A. Maikan

One of our readers wishes to know, what is the value of the Jamaica School Certificate, JSC? In seeking to establish the value of anything it is necessary to ask the question, to whom and for what? These questions are certainly applicable with respect to seeking to determine the current value of the JSC.

The JSC is an examination that is not related to any specific grade in the secondary school system. Some have argued that it is of about Third Form standard, others have said a Fourth  Form standard. The fact is that many Third Form or Grade Nine students have sat and passed the JSC. But it is also true that many persons, having do the JSC have sat and passed the CXC or GCE ‘O’ levels after one year of additional study. For example, when teachers’ college operated the Preliminary Year students were accepted with JSC passes, given one year of additional instruction and then required to sit O Levels or CXC. The vast majority of these students passed the ‘O’ Levels of CXC.

The JSC, therefore, could be of value to students, in and out of school, as a gauge to their academic progress. The JSC may be a year or so below the CXC. Hence, it may give some students an idea of the progress they are making toward the CXC standard.

About twenty years ago five JSC passes, including ‘English Language’, was the minimum standard for admission into teachers’ colleges and nursing schools. Since then the standard has been raised to four CXC general proficiency including ‘English Language’. In addition, several employers used the JSC for screening persons for employment. Like teaching and nursing, several employers have raised their standard to that of the CXC. As a result, the JSC  has lost much of its value as a means of gaining entry into tertiary education and for employment purposes. It is not surprising therefore that many students have moved away from sitting the JSC, resulting in a big fall-off in the numbers sitting and receiving JSC passes.

The answer to our reader, therefore, is that while the JSC has retained its value as a means by which students can gauge their progress in secondary education, it has lost much of the value it had up to 20 years ago with respect to access to some form of tertiary education and for employment. Over this period the benchmark has moved to the CXC General Proficiency standard.

This is not to say, however, that the JSC has totally lost its value as a credential for employment since, in some competitive situation, having some qualifications is better than having none at all. The point is, however, that the JSC has had better days than is currently the case in 1997.

May 12, 1997