Aug 13, 2013 News
With the sustained practice of national consultations embraced by Minister Priya Manickchand, the Education Sector is set to return to its former glory. This was the deduction made by President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union, Mr Colin Bynoe, during a recent interview with this publication.
According to Bynoe, it was through national consultations that the Education Ministry was able to recognise the need to review the Automatic Promotion Policy. The revised Policy, which is expected to take effect when the new school year begins next month, will take into consideration not only subjects students are good at, but also subjects that are required for their matriculation.
In fact, Minister Manickchand at a press conference disclosed that “the parents, teachers and even the students themselves believe that promotion from one grade to another should not be automatic but earned.”
Bynoe asserted that the move to review the policy was always anticipated by the GTU. Moreover, he noted that “what the Minister is saying and what they (Ministry of Education) are trying to implement now is what we have been saying all the time…but what we were doing was simply being patient for them to have it tried and tested.”
In the past, students who failed to achieve the overall pass mark set by the school were made to repeat the grade and by extension, all the subjects, including those at which the student may have done exceptionally well. This, as a result, led to repeaters dropping-out of school, either through boredom of having to redo subject matter they would have already gone over continually or through embarrassment of having to be in the same class with much younger students.
It was for this reason that the Automatic Promotion Policy was initially introduced under the tenure of former Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, to correct the negative effects of Grade Repetition.
However, the policy, which applies only to secondary schools, was designed to not only automatically promote, but to ensure that students were furnished with intense remediation. But according to Minister Manickchand, “for a whole host of reasons this was not happening…so we could deduce from that, that the students who would have been automatically promoted may not have been as successful as if they were forced to master a subject.”
And although no formal analysis was undertaken by the Education Ministry to ascertain the performance of automatically-promoted students, they were yet promoted to the next grade, regardless of their performance following the annual assessments.
But after the completion of a promised review of the policy, complete with reports from some 30 consultation sessions across Guyana, it was revealed that the policy was not popular with any of the critical stakeholders.
And according to Bynoe, “I know that the Minister would have done so, because she did seek to have national consultations, and that is crucial in this country.”
“The more consultations you have with people it makes it easy for decision-making and we at the GTU are happy about this,” said Bynoe, who is convinced that this move will cater to the development of the education sector.
The revised policy will now require that students who score below the overall pass mark set by the school, in more than 50 per cent of the subjects being undertaken, repeat the grade. Also, if students achieve less than the overall pass mark set by the school, with the scores for the subject areas of Mathematics and English being unacceptable, they will be asked to repeat the grade.
But, according to the Education Minister, if a student fails to attain the overall pass mark as a result of any other subject, that student will not be asked to repeat the grade, but may, however, be required to drop the subject he or she failed.
Manickchand explained that the aim of the new policy is to help students succeed at both English and Mathematics, since all students need at least five Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, at one sitting, including English A and Mathematics at Grades One to Three, to matriculate.
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