Why PEP to replace GSAT in 2019 and How to dispose of an old Jamaican Flag

39,129 students across the island sat the GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) (Thompson, 2016, March 19) on Thursday March 17th and Friday March 18th 2016 just before the start of the Easter Break.

Geezam - Why PEP to replace GSAT in 2019 and How to dispose of an old Jamaican Flag - 30-03-2016 LHDEER

Many found the Social Studies paper far easier than the Mathematics paper (Bailey, 2016, March 18), but one question had everybody, even adults, stumped. The question related to how to treat an old and worn Jamaican flag (Brown, 2016, March 21). The exact wording of the question that baffled even adults was as follows:

There is a torn national flag and you have to dispose of it. Which of the below answers is the correct method of disposing of the national flag? 

  1. Bury it.
  2. Tear it up.
  3. Burn it.

Confused GSAT Students – JIS had the answer on its website

This question had many GSAT students and parents confused, as some claimed that they’d been taught that the flag was to be buried while other said it was to be burnt. Jamaica’s foremost protocol expert Merrick Needham (The Jamaica Observer, 2016, March 23) soon weighed in, albeit the advice was clearly listed on the JIS (Jamaica Information Service) Website:

  • The Jamaican flag should never be allowed to touch the ground or floor. It should not be flown or used only for decorative purposes on anything that is for temporary use and is likely to be discarded, except on state occasions.
  • The flag should never be smaller than any other flag flown at the same time.
  • Do not place any other flag above or to the right of the Jamaican flag, except at foreign embassies, consulates and missions. (As seen from, say, a building looking outwards, i.e., the left when facing the building.)
  • Do not raise any foreign flag publicly, unless the Jamaican flag is also flown, except at foreign embassies, consulates and missions.
  • The flag shouldn’t be draped over vehicles, except on military, police and state occasions.

So with this information on the JIS Website, what of the students who answered that it should be buried, based on their GSAT textbooks?

Ministry of Education clears the Air – GSAT to get torched, privately, in 2019

The Ministry of Education finally weighed in, stating that the correct protocol was for the old flag (The Jamaica Gleaner, 2016, March 30) to be burned privately. However, those students that had answered that the flag was to be buried would not lose marks (The Jamaica Observer, 2016, March 29) due to the conflicting information in textbooks.

Interestingly too, future generations may not have to take the GSAT, as the Ministry of Education plans to sunset the exam by 2019 (The Jamaica Gleaner, 2016, March 26) and replace it with the PEP (Primary Exit Profile) along with other initiatives for Secondary School, suitable for another article. Still, it’s just one question that threw a spotlight on GSAT; the results are coming out in June 2016.

For now, most student have Bun and Cheese and Easter Egg (Deer, 2015, March 11) Hunts on their mind.


  1. Deer, L. (2015, March 11). How to Dye Bright Glow-in-the-Dark Easter Eggs to go with your Easter Bun. Retrieved from https://lindsworthdeer.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/glow-in-the-dark-easter-eggs/
  2. Bailey, T. (2016, March 18). Social Studies Above Maths – Manchester Students Rank GSAT Papers. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20160318/social-studies-above-maths-manchester-students-rank-gsat-papers
  3. Thompson, T. (2016, March 19). Joy and Relief as Students Complete GSAT. Retrieved from http://jis.gov.jm/joy-relief-students-complete-gsat/
  4. Brown, D. (2016, March 21). The 2016 question that baffled GSAT students. Retrieved from http://www.loopjamaica.com/content/2016-question-baffled-gsat-students
  5. The Jamaica Observer. (2016, March 23). Needham tells how to treat old and worn J’can flag amidst GSAT controversy. Retrieved from http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Needham-tells-how-to-treat-old-and-worn-J-can-flag-amidst-GSAT-controversy-_55506
  6. The Jamaica Gleaner. (2016, March 26). Exam To Replace GSAT To Be Introduced May 2019. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20160326/exam-replace-gsat-be-introduced-may-2019
  7. The Jamaica Observer. (2016, March 29). No penalty for ‘bury it’ response to GSAT flag question. Retrieved from http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/No-penalty-for–bury-it–response-to-GSAT-flag-question
  8. The Jamaica Gleaner. (2016, March 30). Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20160330/education-ministry-clarifies-gsat-question-about-jamaican-flag
  9. The Jamaica Gleaner. (2016, March 30). Education Ministry Clarifies GSAT Question About Jamaican Flag. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20160330/education-ministry-clarifies-gsat-question-about-jamaican-flag





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