Like the Ministry of Education, the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) is certainly not opposed to students writing as many as 20 subjects.
According to CXC Registrar, Dr Didacus Jules, while he is aware of calls being made to limit the number of subjects candidates write at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination the matter has not come up for deliberation at the level of CXC.
“We don’t consider it to be a matter under CXC’s purview; this is a matter for parents, the schools and ultimately the Ministry,” said Dr Jules, during an interview.
However, he said, “Our view on it is that you should not put a limit on people’s capacity; whatever subject you feel you can do you ought to be allowed to do.”
The CXC Registrar underscored though, that one factor that must remain clear is that the number of subjects that are undertaken does not determine whether a candidate is able to secure the status of top regional performer. “That is the bottom line,” asserted Dr Jules.
This state of affairs was particularly evident when CXC announced the top performers of the Region. Although Zimeena Rasheed of the Anna Regina Multilateral School was the candidate with the most CSEC passes – 18 grade one passes and two grade two passes – it was her colleague, Yogeeta Persaud, with 18 grade one passes who was declared the top Regional Performer. Rasheed was however named the best performing candidate in Technical Vocation.
Guyana also secured the top Regional performing spots in the area of Business, Science and Humanities through the performances of Sasha Woodroffe, Cecil Cox and Rafena Mustapha respectively. This allowed for Guyana to secure five of the eight top performing awards offered by CXC this year.
The three other top performing awards which were secured by other Regional territories were those for the Most Outstanding Candidate in Visual Arts, 2-Dimensional Work; Most Outstanding Candidate in Visual Arts, 3-Dimensional Work; and Most Outstanding Candidate in Short Story Writing.
According to Dr Jules, “The students who have done all these subjects and have done well have really discovered the secret of the thing…If you are doing Biology, Chemistry, Physics, doing Human and Social Biology and Integrated Science is a breeze because you have already covered the fundamentals.”
Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, at a press conference to unveil this year’s CXC results said that although her Ministry has not been actively encouraging students to write many subjects, capable students will not be dissuaded from doing so.
At that forum she said that the local Ministry already has in place a clear policy which outlines that in order for students to undertake more than 10 subjects at CXC they must “show remarkable competence.”
But even before reaching the level of CXC, the Minister noted that another requirement is that students be able to pass the National Grade Nine Examination.
And according to her the fact that we have students writing 20 subjects means they have the capacity. “I am not a proponent of the view that says you should shut down talent simply because there is some criticism about it…We can’t all run like Usain Bolt but we shouldn’t stop him from running at the pace he is capable of running, and so for me if a student can write five subjects including Mathematics and English and do well at those then they should be encouraged and supported to do that.”
The Minister in making her point categorically clear underscored that students have repeatedly, over several decades, shown that they have the capacity not only to do well locally but to be catapulted to the level of world leadership.
“We should never put them in a box,” said the Minister, as she alluded to the fact that even in first world countries while it is expected that students attend college by 18 there are some who are graduating with their degrees by 16.
“Where we have students who can excel encourage them,” the Minister emphasised even as she noted the responsibility of Government “to develop everybody to their fullest potential, and if one person’s fullest potential requires (them doing) 20 subjects, then fine.”
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