"Not one dollar is lost that we have invested in education; not because we didn’t get 100 percent passes it means money was lost.”news 20170829 1

This was the passionate assertion of Minister of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry, as she commented on the performance of students at the 2017 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate [CSEC] examination. According to the Minister, “even though we didn’t get 100 percent passes, I think that the students that wrote would have learnt something, and the teachers would have learnt something that they can do to improve performances moving forward.”
As such, she emphasized, “we just couldn’t look at it in the context of if someone does not pass it was not a good use of government’s funds. I believe it was a good use; I believe that students, though not reflected in grades, would have learnt something that would prepare them for life.”
A total of 12,684 candidates wrote the 2017 CSEC. This year those who made up the top one percent were only drawn from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, 10 and Georgetown.
Of the 13 top performers in Region Two, eight were from the Anna Regina Multilateral School, one was from Cotton Field Secondary and four were from Abram Zuil Secondary. In Region Three, the 20 top performers were from Zeeburg Secondary [one], West Demerara Secondary [four] and the Saraswati Vidya Niketan [15].
The 17 Region Four top performers were from Presidents College [seven], Hope Secondary [three], the Hindu College [two], Apex Academy [three], Camille’s Institute [one] and the Diamond Secondary School [one]. The three top performers for Region Five were from Rosignol Secondary [two] and Guyana Private [one].
In Region Six, the 17 top performers were from Berbice High [four], J. C. Chandisingh [one], Corentyne Comprehensive [one], New Amsterdam Multilateral School [four], Skeldon Line Path Secondary [three] and Tagore High [four]. The single Region 10 candidate who made it into the top performing realm this year was a student from the Christianburg/Wismar Secondary School.
However, the majority [93] of the top performers this year were in fact from Georgetown [District 11]. This translated to 11 from The Bishops’ High, three from Central High, one from Brickdam Secondary, 41 from Queen’s College, one from St. Joseph High, 11 from St. Rose’s High, nine from St. Stanislaus College, five from Mae’s Secondary, two from Marian Academy and one from the ISA Islamic School. Even as she stressed, “there is still a lot of work to do…to reduce the disparity and increase our percentage,” Minister Henry admitted that the money allocated to the Ministry should in fact cater to improved performances across the board.
“I believe we can make better use of the money that is assigned to the Ministry of Education, and it must be reflected in the number of passes and the percentage by extension,” she added.
Among the subject areas in which the Ministry hopes to see improved performances at future sittings of CSEC are Mathematics and English. Even as she considered the need for improved performances in these areas, the Minister highlighted that “we have not launched specific interventions to deal with either English or Mathematics [in addition to others] in 2017 or 2016 [but] given these results, we will definitely have to focus on those areas, to ensure that we are getting the best results for the amount of dollars that we are investing.”
While there were some laudable improvements in some subject areas, the results of the 2017 sitting of CSEC revealed that there are 11 subject areas in which the performances did not measure up when compared to last year’s performances. These subjects are Biology, English A, English B, Geography, Integrated Science, Physics, Social Studies, Spanish, Visual Arts, Human and Social Biology and Additional Mathematics.
In this regard, Minister Henry underscored “we have a lot of work to do. There is still a lot of work to do in most of the subject areas, and as a Ministry, we recognise that, and we have to work towards ensuring that is reflected moving forward in the years to come, so we can see an upward movement, particularly in the areas of Mathematics and English, which seem to be going in the wrong direction at this point in time.”
But the Ministry is already on course to addressing its shortcomings, even without additional spending. This is according to Chief Education Officer, Mr. Marcel Hutson. Hutson revealed that at the Ministry, “We have a core team, what we call the Education Systems Committee, and the leadership that we are practicing in this dispensation is one of collaboration, one of collectivity, and one where persons will recognise the importance of service.”
“We have had situations where a consciousness has been raised, and we will continue to raise that consciousness that our teachers can impact the system…voluntarily. They [teachers] have asked to go to certain places because they want to make a difference,” the CEO revealed.
For example, teachers have voluntarily asked to serve in riverain communities, a development which he said, Education Officers, Deputy Chiefs and others within the system can attest to.
“There are people who actually wanted to go and serve, because of the whole vision and notion of service,” said Hutson, as he added “I am not going to be practicing any big stick policy. I believe if you actually get people to buy-in to the vision, you will get the response that you want.”