Why is Queen's College not offering Chemistry and Biology at GCE `A' Level?
Stabroek News
October 5, 2001

Dear Editor,

After a year's absence from Queen's College, I returned to the school and students whom I have come to love on September 3, 2001. On or about September 12, while chatting with some Upper Sixth students, I began to sense their frustration. Further investigations revealed why they were unhappy. They were not being permitted to write GCE."A" Level Chemistry / Biology in June 2002.

The students who had satisfied the criteria for admission to pursue GC.E "A" Level studies at their alma mater were happy to see their names on the list and the subjects to be pursued. The list having been published, parents and students were invited to attend the school's orientation. It was during this process, I was made to understand, that they were hit by a" bolt of lightning". Biology / Chemistry will be offered only at C.A.P.E. (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination).

According to the Upper Sixth students, the advertisement re: Sixth Form Admissions (2000 - 2002) clearly stated that Chemistry and Biology, among others, would be offered at the G.C.E "A" Level. At no time, reiterated the students, did the advertisement state that the subjects would be offered only at C.A.P.E.

I was also reliably informed that the school was fully aware of the Ministry's decision to offer only C.A.P.E Chemistry / Biology. Yet the Ministry of Education placed advertisements in the newspapers which were misleading? Who, therefore, is guilty of misleading and deceiving these unsuspecting students and why?

If the advertisement were indeed an oversight, then it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to recall the advertisement, readvertise in the media calling a meeting of all prospective Sixth Form students and inform them in writing about the "error" and apologise. Had this been done very early, the parents would have had the opportunity to discuss the matter with their children and decide what course of action to take.

(a) Pursue the G.C.E "A" Level subjects at a private secondary school

(b) Accept the C.A.P.E programme at QC

(c) Seek admission to UG

(d) Go to Barbados and pursue G.C.E "A" Level studies

(e) have dialogue with the relevant personnel and use "gentle persuasion "not "force" to allow their children to have a choice. (G.C.E "A" Level or C.A.P.E.).

Most students from the top secondary schools would certainly relish the idea of pursuing "A" Level studies at their alma mater in Science, Arts and Business etc. Others, no doubt, would welcome a change; but let it be their choice and their parents'. In this way, the students would bring further honour and glory to their alma mater instead of conferring them on another school, in which they would have spent a mere 2 years and which school may not have necessarily contributed significantly to their outstanding academic performance.

May I now offer my congratulations to the Ministry of Education for being so honest and truthful to the students who are seeking admission to sixth form schools for the period 2001 - 2003. However, I am still in shock. Queen's College, a Sixth Form science school is offering just Physics and Mathematics at the G.C.E. "A" Level along with Accounting, Law and English Literature. Is this what this prestigious school has come to? Why is it that Saint Stanislaus College, President's College and McKenzie high are offering all the Science subjects at the G.C.E. "A" Level?

Has Queen's College become the pilot school for C.A.P.E. Science subjects? Is there, may I ask, a concerted effort to de-emphasise Queen's College and finally destroy it? Is the deletion of G.C.E. "A" Level Chemistry and Biology from Queen's College an attempt to de-emphasise the school and in so doing hope to steer prospective students from choosing Q.C as their first choice, be it first or sixth form?

Are attempts also being made to frustrate present day dedicated, committed, hard-working and qualified teachers and so force them to seek greener pastures especially when they are denied promotion to senior positions within the school and which positions they so richly deserve? It is my belief that a young untrained graduate (just out of U.G) should take home no less than $60,000.00 per month taking into consideration that Education at U.G. is no longer free.

What are the functions of the Queen's College Board? What part, if any, did it play in this Science dilemma? Had stalwarts like Ms. Rutherford, Mr C.I. Trotz, giants in the field of education, been on the Board, I would certainly not be writing this letter. Why was Ms Rutherford, former head of Q.C. unceremoniously ousted? Why Mr. C.I. Trotz was never appointed Chairman of the Board or even asked to serve as a member is beyond my comprehension. After all, he served with distinction as Headmaster of Q.C. and also taught Physics.

To the Old Boys and Girls I say: G.C.E. "A" Level Science is about to die an unnatural death. The school is about to be de-emphasised. Have a say! Let your voices be heard in the interest of the school which you still cherish and want your children and grandchildren to attend! Have a say in the reconstruction of your alma mater! Ensure that the 2 buildings are bridged, oppose the campus-style buildings which only breed indiscipline and restore Q.C. to what it was exactly before the fire of November 1997.

To the Minister of Education I say: In 1975, I was the victim of deception. Twenty-six years later I am reliving that shattering experience by my association with the students who are now victims. How well I understand and share their pains! I received a Certificate for my participation in the Developers' Course, one, which in my opinion was a waste of manpower hours.

Mr. Minister of Education, you also were awarded a Certificate because you were a 'developer' of the very third batch as I was. Did this Certificate open any doors for you? Mine certainly did not. I plead with you, even though the time is short, to permit the students who desire to write the G.C.E. "A" Level to do so and most importantly, recruit the teacher or teachers to carry out this task.

Permit me to ask a few questions which are constantly in my mind. Why was another top secondary not chosen to pilot C.A.P.E Chemistry? Have Trinidad and Barbados, so far, accepted C.A.P.E?

To the students (Class of 2002) I say: "I feel your pains and frustrations, but I know that, despite the huge obstacles thrown in your paths you will overcome them. I hope that you will be successful at your examinations and that you will be accepted at some of the best and most prestigious Universities abroad once you have achieved good grades at the C.G.E. "A" Level examination. To those who had a choice to leave and enroll in a private secondary school, I wish you all the very best. I know that you feel that you have betrayed your alma mater. Believe me, you have not. You did what you had to do in order to achieve the goals which you and your parents have set. Keep the black and gold flag of Queen's College flying high and remember your alma mater today, tomorrow and always.

I have to be optimistic that the students will enjoy the right to choose lest I become disenchanted if and when I hear the names of "certain persons" being mentioned as having national honours conferred on them for their "outstanding"

contribution in the field of Education.

Yours faithfully

Esther Rawlins