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LETTER OF THE DAY - Lessons to be learnt from our education system

Published:Thursday | June 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM


It is imperative that as a society we reflect on the successes and failures of the education system as we approach the end of the 2011-2012 academic year and look forward to the 2012-2013 school year. While most of our children continue to do relatively well at the secondary level, there are many others who have been done a disservice by the stakeholders of the education system, especially those students who attend non-traditional high schools. The stakeholders of the education system, including the Ministry of Education, have been rather short-sighted in not doing enough to ensure that all students leaving high school do so with some form of certification.

Last year, the Jamaica Labour Party government decided that Jamaica would stop doing the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) examination. As a result of the action taken, a significant number of our high school pupils will be graduating in two or so weeks without having the opportunity to sit any external examination, and consequently have been denied the chance to be certified as competent in any field.

The CCSLC examination was developed by the Caribbean Examination Council primarily to prepare individuals to participate fully as productive members of Caribbean societies. The CCSLC examination targeted pupils who were enrolled mainly at upgraded high schools since the majority of those pupils, for various reasons, were not ready to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations. It should be noted that the Government of Jamaica was responsible for paying the fees for candidates to sit this examination.

However, with the suddenness of Jamaica's decision to discontinue this exam, many students were left out in the cold. The City and Guilds (United Kingdom) examination which was suggested by the Ministry of Education as one alternative is much too expensive for the average student, especially when one considers that a student would probably sit a minimum of four subjects.

The Ministry of Education therefore needs to revisit that policy decision, and/or put measures in place so that we do not have a repeat of what will happen this year.