We congratulate all of our students wherever they are for the successes that they have achieved in academia for 2016. Surely it wasn’t easy to excel, given all of the distractions that the world has on offer. It took commitment, concentration and in order to achieve. Our own Rol J Williams completed 17 subjects all at Grade 1 (a grade that formerly was called distinction). We read of students in other territories who achieved 20 subjects, mostly with distinctions.
Even as we congratulate these students we must also question the real value of writing so many subjects and what are they comprised of, and whether it is too easy for children to pass exams. We have already established that pass mark is lower than 50%, that SBA’s give students up to a 30% head-start; and some SBA’s are allegedly not done by the students themselves.
Take for example the single subject previously known as Commerce. It has now blossomed into Office Procedures, Principles of Business, Principles of Accounts, Economics and maybe EDPM. Hobby type subjects such as Physical Education & Sports, Visual Arts and Theatre Arts are also examined.
Do not misunderstand us; children have a right to develop all of their skills and be all that they can be, to the best of their ability. What we are concerned with are the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy. We still see too many students who cannot read properly, speak properly nor reckon properly. It’s rare to find a student today with critical thinking skills. They just cannot connect the dots! Is it any surprise that English Language (our mother tongue)- and now called English A – is soon to be examined orally, just like a foreign language. Ever heard of TOEFL? It’s coming soon!
In the rush to have each child “complete”High School, and in order to cement CSME, we have also introduced a lower level examination called Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence. To what purpose is CCSLC? Arguably, the children would have been better served taking 1 or 2 CSec subjects that highlight their vocational strengths and/or natural abilities. A parent posed this dilemma: “my child received a grade IV for CSec Maths but a Master of Maths at CCSLC. What does that mean?” She got no answer.
We have another deeper question? Is CXC interested in the education of our children or is it a for-profit business?
Still, once again, congratulations are in order! Parents, children, schools…you did well!