… Mathematics still cause for concern
On Thursday, last, results were released for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Exams and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), both of which are administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).
With those results, the Ministry of Education unveiled the statistics on the performance of Guyana as a whole, in both examinations.
According to the Ministry, the number of candidates registered for the exams this year was 12,731 in total.
Of this number, 8,166 were from the public school system and 4,565 were from private schools.
Of the total number of registered candidates, more than two-thirds were females, continuing the trend of girls outstripping boys in the school system.
Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, stated that this year’s batch of candidates was the largest yet.
This year there were 70,000 CSEC subject entries in comparison to the 62,945 entries of 2010.
And according to Baksh, 64.4 percent of candidates obtained at least Grades One to Three; these grades being indicative of passes sufficient for matriculation purposes.
The two most important subjects, Mathematics and English Language saw contrasting trends in pass rates. While the English A pass rate was 60.8 percent, an increase from the 2010 pass rate of 59.2 percent; Mathematics actually showed a decline in passes with this year’s rate at 30.4 percent while 2010’s was 34.5 percent – a 4.1 percentage point drop. The Minister noted that while this was dismal news, it should perhaps be taken in the context of the performance of the rest of the Caribbean territories. According to Baksh, the Mathematics pass rate in Barbados was 38 percent, Jamaica – 31 percent and Trinidad & Tobago – 31 percent. He claimed that these results were indicative of a problem that was prevalent not just here in the Guyana but across the entire Caribbean.
The Minister claimed that one of the contributory factors was the acute shortage of capable and qualified Mathematics teachers. In an effort to change the statistics on this particular subject however, the Ministry apparently intends to pursue the recruitment of a number of Mathematics teachers from overseas territories. Baksh’s justification for such a move was that the system needed a short term boost while longer term solutions were being initiated.
These include the Ministry’s focus on raising the bar at the Cyril Potter College of Education where there are moves afoot to strengthen the programme in Mathematics. The Ministry also intends to continue with its non-graduate certificate programme in Mathematics. These programmes last 18 months and serve the immediate purpose of upgrading the competency and skills of teachers already in the system.
The Ministry also revealed the ranking of the top six schools. He said that schools are ranked under two systems. The first being matriculation rate and the other being the overall pass rate.
The matriculation ranking system uses the percentage of students obtaining Grades One to Three in at least five subjects at one sitting. Under this ranking system, the top public schools are Bishop’s High – 96.20 percent, Queen’s College – 90.43 percent, President’s College – 81.46 percent, St. Rose’s High School – 78.49 percent, Annandale Secondary School – 72.73 percent and St. Joseph’s High – 71.88 percent. The average matriculation rate in the public schools is 81.2 percent. Meanwhile, in the private schools, the rankings are Saraswati Vidya Niketan – 70 percent, Marian Academy – 61.12 percent, Isa Islamic School – 59.2 percent, Joselle Academy – 46.7 percent, Mae’s Secondary – 40 percent, and the Hindu Dharmic Sabha– 29.41 percent. The average matriculation rate in private schools was found to be 54.58 percent.
The other ranking system utilized by the Ministry is the Overall Pass Rate system. Here the schools are evaluated on the number of Grades One to Three achieved as compared to the number of subject entries. The rankings change under this system, Queens College – 98 percent, Bishop’s High – 97.60 percent, President’s College – 96.90 percent, Saraswati Vidya Niketan – 94.90 percent, Mae’s Secondary – 94.80 percent and Mackenzie High – 94.10 percent. The overall pass rate for public schools was 67.3 percent and 54.5 percent for private schools.
The overall pass rate for all schools this year was 64.4 percent, a decline from 2010 where the pass rate was 66.2 percent. In terms of individual candidate performances, there were 188 candidates who earned Grade One passes in eight or more subjects.
Mrs. Fazia Baksh, acting Head of Queen’s College in the absence of the school’s Head and Deputy Head, shared her thoughts on the reasons for the school’s success. She praised the continued dedication of the students to their work. The support networks of the students were also cited as one of the contributing factors. She said that supportive parents and teachers were a must for the success of students and spoke about the long hours and extra classes that teachers at the school put in for their students. Many teachers tend to go above and beyond the call of duty when they have willing and able students to encourage their efforts. The receptive attitudes of these students are the reasons that teachers will go that extra mile and undertake tasks such as compiling and working past papers with students, coming in to school and working on weekends and holidays. Mrs. Baksh also pointed to the extreme levels of competition within the ranks at Queen’s College, which as any top performer from the school will tell you, is always intense. From the First Form all the way to CSEC students are driven to be the best by simply trying to keep up with their peers, and this motivates many students to take on the work that eventually makes them into top students.
For those students who have completed their CSEC examinations, there are a number of future paths that they can choose from. Of those that chose to continue their studies, some few chose to enter a Sixth Form School and pursue subjects in CAPE. CAPE serves as a useful bridge for the gap between High School and University studies. It helps students to gain independence and learn the art of motivating themselves.
According to the Ministry of Education, there were 627 candidates writing the CAPE Examinations from ten examination centres; two private and eight public. From these candidates, there was a total of 2551 subject entries, which according to the Ministry, returned an 82.5 percent pass rate. Candidates had a choice of Units from 23 subject areas. Each unit comprises three modules that are equivalent to 150 university credit hours. Guyanese students took examinations under 41 units this year. The results are recorded on a seven point scale as opposed to the five point scale used for CSEC. Candidates scoring at least Grades 1 – 5 have attained a pass sufficient for matriculation purposes.
This year there were 164 Grade One passes – a 6.91 percent pass rate, 301 Grade Two passes – 12.68 percent, 503 Grade Three passes – 21.19 percent, 551 Grade Four passes – 23.21 percent and 440 Grade Five passes – 18.53 percent.
Females dominated these examinations as well with 52.9 percent of the total pass rate, compared with 26.9 percent by males. The best performances were recorded in nine units, which saw 100 percent pass rates. These units included English Literature 1, Spanish 1, Spanish 2 and Information Technology 2.
A 75 percent pass rate was recorded in at least 22 more units. Among these were Accounting 1 and 2, Applied Mathematics 1, Economics 1 and 2 and Physics Unit 1 and 2.
Unsatisfactory performance was recorded in three units where the pass rate was below 50 percent. These subjects were Geometrical and Mechanical Engineering Drawing 1, Pure Mathematics 1 and Computer Science 2. The Ministry noted that the performance in Pure Mathematics Unit 1 continues to be below the 50 percent pass rate. However it has improved from 38 percent in 2010 to 47.72 percent in 2011.
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