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Review entire education system

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Review entire education system

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A WEEK AFTER the results of this year’s Common Entrance Examination were made public, the debate continues on the pros and cons of this test for our students making the transition from the primary to secondary level. It is a debate that has been raging for years, with no determination as to the way forward.
Given that the examination will not be replaced by another system of performance measurement at this stage, it is important that a detailed analysis be done of the students’ work – based not just on this year’s results but using the data for at least the previous five years.
Unfortunately, most of the attention continues to be primarily on the small number of students who excel and to a lesser extent on whether there has been any improvement or decline in the English and mathematics. The country deserves to know what are the fundamental problems and where we are failing our students, not only when they write the Common Entrance Examination but before and indeed afterwards. We must be interested in all our students and not just those who excel academically.
 At the end of it all, Barbados will always be home for the majority of these students. That is why it is of national importance that there be a review of not only the exam but the entire nursery to secondary school system.
While the focus is on the students, one of the fundamental issues to be tackled is that of training and positioning of teachers. The teacher corps needs to be professionalised, its profile raised and its value to the overall society recognised. Being an educator must become a prized occupation for many of our young people considering career options. It must also be a profession which attracts the brightest and the best. There should always be many more applicants than places for those seeking to get into the teaching profession. Applicants must be exposed to a rigorous preparation plan that ensures that they are not only certified but effectively qualified to deliver their area of expertise.
We must not seek, however, to place all the blame for students’ poor performance on teachers. There are simply too many other logical reasons. Large classrooms that do not allow for the individual attention often required is a known contributing factor, but so too are the social and environmental issues outside of the classroom.
Exams do provide latent information of significant value related to the weaknesses in a student’s performance and can point the way for the necessary corrective measures to be instituted. Given this reality, it is important that Minister of Education Ronald Jones and his team undertake the required analysis so as to make the information relevant and useful.
So while we wait to figure out the problems, we must not allow our school system to deteriorate – we must strengthen it.