Hypocrisy in Education
Today being “International Youth Day” the focus is on youths. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth”. But if youths are to make their contribution towards building a better world, it is even more important that they are given the education necessary to most fully develop their potential. It is not a coincidence that ‘education’ is now regarded as the most vital component in development.
Here in Guyana, following CAPE, the CSEC results are now trickling in. The Ministry of Education felt it necessary to ask the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to release the names of those students who passed more than eight subjects with Grade One. From the approximately 13,000 that sat the last CSEC exams, 175 names were submitted.
This is a shame and a disgrace from several angles. Firstly why does the Ministry continue with this farce of focusing only on the one percent “high flyers” that would do well in any random sample? Do they want to take the credit for their success? We’re sure they do. Has the Ministry taken note that every one of the ‘high flyers’ from Queen’s College – the premier school in the country , collecting the top 1% from the 6th Grades – mentioned that they had to resort to ‘outside lessons”?
How then could there be talk about the curriculum being completed in schools? Has the Ministry taken time to do a survey? The bitter fact is that especially at CAPE – but also in most CSEC subjects – teachers still do not complete the curriculum in school, forcing most students to resort to their or other lessons. The Ministry should take note of the practice of Saraswati Vidya Niketan (SVN), which placed very well in the Ministry’s top 1% list, to have their teachers offer extra tuition on the school premises at no extra cost to the students. Overall SVN received a pass rate (Grade 1-3) of 97% and 91% in the key areas of English and Maths.
But most pertinently, what about the remaining 99% of CSEC students that still do not know how badly they did? We know it is ‘badly’ because they did not make the Ministry’s cut-off criterion for what is a ‘good’ result. Absolutely no consideration is shown for the distraught students that are now imagining the worst.
No matter how the Ministry slices and dices the results, the overall abysmal pass rates in Mathematics (29.69%) and English (37.02%) says it all about its performance. If we are failing in basic literacy and numeracy a decade after so many billions were spent and so many innovations were introduced, then there is something rotten in more places than the state of Denmark. Let us start with the Ministry of Education.
Our youths deserve better. We will all have to take a deep breath and quit with the gamesmanship. The fundamental problem, as we have pointed out in this space, is one of leadership from the Ministry at the top and the heads of schools at the bottom. These officials have to ensure that the curriculum for each subject taught is completed within the school premises at least one month before exams are to be taken.
Youths have to be treated as what they are: our most important resource and the raison d’être for our entire national effort. Of what use is all the storm and fury if we are not equipping our youths with the necessary equipment to make the best use of what they will inherit?