Education should not be politicised – Minister Manickchand
There is an urgent need to directly confront the abysmal results that have been obtained this year at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination.
This conviction was expressed by Minister of Education Priya Manickchand on Thursday even as she noted that “…we need to be somewhere close to despair when we look at some of the results in the core areas, which means that our children are not matriculating… which means they are going to have a lot of doors closed to them.”
As such, she amplified that there is an urgent need for the Region to stop lamenting over the results and start tangibly doing something to address the situation.
The Minister was at the time delivering remarks at the International Conference Centre where the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) held the official launching of the 2012 CSEC and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) results.
“We must frontally accept and pronounce on the horror that has been our Mathematics and English grades for almost all our history,” Manickchand insisted, while noting that it is imperative that all citizens must recognise the glaring problem and become conscientiously engaged in solutions.
The Minister related that education ministers and officers, the Region over, should not be hesitant to disclose the reality of the sector “if those realities signal crisis” simply because they fear placing into the hands of the opposition parties in the respective countries, a weapon with which the government of the day can be beaten.
“The education of our boys and girls should never be politicised. Bad results must be bemoaned by all, and good results and the efforts to get there promoted, owned and celebrated by all.”
She asserted that Guyana welcomes an initiative being proposed by the CXC to establish an Expert Working Group on teaching and learning Mathematics and English. In fact, she said, the local education sector is looking forward to the historical performance review; reviews of the syllabuses and pedagogies; noting and adoption of international best practices – all with a view to coming up with a regional plan of action.
“We urge that this working group be established and begin its work with haste. We have noted locally that our Mathematics and English grades are poor. We refuse to accept that this is the best that our children can do.”
The Minister emphasised that it was against this background that her Ministry had engaged an initiative of its own, ahead of the CSEC examination, to help improve its results. Though short-term, the initiative yielded marked improvements among 26 pilot schools, whose performances were better than that obtained Caribbean-wide, as well as the national average.
“The results were extremely encouraging…The Caribbean has a pass mark in 2012 of 33 per cent in Mathematics and Guyana has a pass mark of 29.69 per cent in Mathematics and the pilot schools have a pass mark of 39.85 per cent…”
She revealed that in the subject area of English, which saw alarming results this year, 52.05 per cent of the students in the pilot schools passed with grades one through three. Nationally, a mere 37 per cent of students passed this subject with similar grades, while regionally, there was a 47 per cent pass rate.
“The pilot schools, in the face of our country and the Region doing worse than last year, did better…We believe that we have started something that can only get better,” Manickchand stressed.