A highly insulting editorial, fraught with inaccuracies
The Kaieteur News Editorial entitled “Hypocrisy in Education” (KN) Sunday, August 12, is highly insulting and fraught with inaccuracies.
Unquestionably, the information provided for the media in 2012 was far more comprehensive than previous years. Each year, there are extensive discussions regarding what should be released and the structure of same. These discussions/debates within the Ministry, ultimately lead to the acceptance of the need to recognize the hard work of those high achievers, regardless of where they come from, while still giving value to efforts all of our students and teachers throughout the system.
This point was further reinforced at the press conference held. To suggest, as this Editorial does, that Officers of this Ministry conspired to dupe the public in the dissemination of this year’s CSEC results is untrue and highly disrespectful.
Clearly, one has to accept, whether we agree or not, that the nation has grown used to the practice of recognizing the “high flyers”. Even further, these students do deserve praise for their hard work and above average achievements—many in the face of extremely difficult circumstances. That was the extent of the exercise of naming 40 of these 175 exceptional students.
What should be noted, however, is that if the Editor had properly evaluated the list he alludes to, he would have seen that these students are now emerging from institutions spread all across the nation and not all from Queen’s College as he stated. So the “premier school in the country, collecting the top 1% from the 6th Grades” did not produce the 175 top students at CSEC as was clearly implied.
Students and teachers from Abram’s Zuil, Cotton Field and Anna Regina Secondary, West Demerara, Stewartville and Zeeburg Secondary, Annandale and Hope Secondary, Berbice High and New Amsterdam Multilateral, Skeldon Line Path, Tagore Memorial, Corentyne Comprehensive and JC Chandisingh Secondary, Mackenzie High, Central and North Georgetown Secondary, have every reason to be proud of their accomplishments.
To add insult to injury, the editorial goes on to state that the eight or more Grade Ones is what the Ministry deems as a “good” result and as such 99% of this year’s cohort did not make the Ministry’s “cut-off criterion”.
For years, as former Minister Baksh repeatedly declared, and the current Minister reinforced at several public engagements reported on by Kaieteur News, the Ministry has been emphasizing that the matriculation requirements of five subjects including English and Mathematics is our clear focus. Unfortunately, given the limited time between the release of the information to the Ministry of Education and its public online dissemination, which occurred later the day of the press conference, the computation of this data was not possible. This too was pointed out at the press conference.
On another point of note, the Ministry of Education has never prohibited “extra tuition on the school premises at no extra cost to the students”. We maintain that students should not pay for lessons conducted in public schools. Even further, we have, as all other territories in the Region, recognized that this year’s performance has deep implications for our approach towards the preparation of our students.
As such, an extensive analysis of this year’s performance is ongoing with emphasis on expanding the areas which have delivered encouraging results and correcting the deficiencies. No mention was made in this editorial of the dimensions of this year’s performance that are highly encouraging, suggesting that there was no interest in presenting a balanced position in relation to our students’ performance. The Stabroek News Editorial on Monday, August 13, reflects the quality of journalism one expects from a premier publishing outfit and raises pertinent questions which will be effectively answered over the course of this evaluative exercise. As such, I agree Mr. Editor that “we will all have to take a deep breath and quit with the gamesmanship”. The Ministry remains receptive to all constructive engagements regarding improving our students’ performance and will continue to work assiduously to that end. The nation deserves better!
Chief Education Officer
Ministry of Education