Thwaites: English needs greater improvement
Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
ALTHOUGH THERE was a marginal two per cent increase in passes in English A in this year's Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said significant work needs to be done to improve students' performance in the subject.
With 26,527 students sitting the subject (64 per cent of the full cohort), 66 per cent passed, compared to 64 per cent last year. However, whereas most students received an 'A' for understanding, most also received an 'E' for expression.
"This points out the need for far more reading and speaking in English, and it underscores the imperative for teachers to provide adequate opportunities for practice and feedback on students writing," Thwaites stated on Monday at a press conference at the ministry's Kingston office to outline the 2014 CSEC and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) results.
"In light of this, in two years there will be an oral testing in English for all students."
Additionally, he said, for the new school year, 120 literacy coaches will be assigned to assist schools, particularly the weaker ones, to improve the outcomes.
"For many of our students the English language is not their first language, and although our Jamaican language is to be respected and cherished, it is not the English language, it is something different," said the minister.
"What is absolutely essential is that, by whatever means, students by grade four should have reasonable competence in the English language."
Candidates who sat this year's CSEC recorded an improvement in 14 of the 35 subject areas, with mathematics recording the highest jump of 13 per cent increase in passes over last year. The other improved subjects are: physics (nine per cent increase), additional mathematics (seven per cent increase), music, biology, chemistry, clothing and textiles, electronic document preparation and management, food and nutrition, home economics management, physical education and sports, technical drawing, and theatre arts.
Overall, the science subjects recorded the largest improvement in passes, with seven percentage points.
With the Government wasting approximately $18 million per year paying for examinations that students do not turn up for, Thwaites said plans are in place that by 2016, it will be mandatory for 100 per cent of graduating students to sit CSEC mathematics and English. It will also be mandatory, he said, for all students to have at least one marketable skill.
In the meantime, in the CAPE results, of the 38,536 entries in Unit One, 87 per cent of the students attained grades one to five, which represented a two per cent decline from last year. And of the 16,436 entries in Unit Two, 91 per cent attained grades one to five, in keeping with the same results from last year.
In the new subject, digital media, there was 100 per cent passes among the 17 students who sat the subject. CAPE candidates entered 25 subject areas.
"I want to commend teachers, students and parents for these improved results. And I salute the private-sector partners for their continued support of education. We are heading in the right direction," the minister stated.
Students are now able to view their results on the Caribbean Examination Council website and can collect their result slips from their respective schools later this week.