JIS News

Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Minister Maxine Henry-Wilson has outlined several interventions to be undertaken by the Education Ministry to improve the quality of student performance at secondary schools during the 2005/06 fiscal year.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson who was making her opening presentation in the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate yesterday (May 10) in the House of Representatives said the stigma of “failing schools which give the sense of failing children” would have to be removed.
The Minister said while the long-term solution lay in improving the primary school system, the immediate answer was in the improvement of the teaching and learning quality in the schools.
She said the need for action became far more apparent in light of the low level of passes at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) level, which indicated that the island’s schools were becoming less competitive with Caribbean neighbours.
“I don’t think any of us have any cause to rejoice in the level of passes at grade three. the results are troubling not because we are benchmarking everybody against CXC but what it is telling us is that we are becoming less than competitive with our Caribbean neighbours,” the Education Minister told the House.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson said the intervention to be made in the teaching at the CSEC level through the E-learning project being carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology would be just one of the vehicles to correct the deficiency.
In addressing the issue of students who have not achieved the pass mark but are placed at the Grade seven level even though they are unable to read and write, Mrs. Henry-Wilson said the interventions under the Reform of Secondary Education (ROSE II) project would be strengthened to tackle this problem. She informed that further interventions would be made under the school improvement-planning programme in some 99 target institutions. Under this initiative schools will receive between $1 and $9 million payable in six monthly instalments for the improvement of their facilities.
Where space deficiencies were concerned the Education Minister said a valiant effort would be made during the year to return reading rooms to schools, and ensure that they were equipped with science and computer laboratories. She said efforts would also be made to reinstate the one to 35 teacher pupil ratio in all secondary schools.
“Every effort will be made to correct these deficiencies and a start will be made in this year,” she assured.
Also the upcoming year will see the rationalizing of the system with the conversion of all primary, junior high and all age schools to primary or secondary based on the propositions of the Taskforce on Education.
Meanwhile the Taskforce has also proposed that a year be added at each end of the system. It cited the fact that children were not allowed enough time on tasks and the truncation of the system as reasons for the underperformance and underachievement being witnessed.
As a result, all secondary schools will go up to Grade 12. Under this regime, students will be allowed to sit terminal exams at Grade 11 but those unable to do so will sit the exam at the Grade 12 level. The Education Minister said the adjustment would serve to address the “very vexed issue” of children leaving school at 16 years of age.

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