Hooking up the schools
October 12, 2000
THE nation Tuesday honoured its top achievers at the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and Secondary School Entrance Examination (SSEE).
The ceremony at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown was part of the activities organised for Education Month 2000 and President Bharrat Jagdeo used the occasion to outline projections for the sector.
"We have come a long way in terms of education enhancement. There is evidence to suggest that our students are doing much better today than in the past...", he reflected.
"I am confident that with determination we will achieve our goal of having a highly educated and trained populace ready to face the challenges of this new millennium," he told the 52 young awardees and others at the function.
This is the real challenge - students coming out of schools and other educational institutions being able and ready to cope with the challenges.
And the President did not pretend that everything is rosy in the education sector.
"As we bask in the glory of our top performers, we must not overlook the fact that thousands in Community High Schools and Primary Tops cannot write the CXC", he acknowledged, noting a clear shortcoming.
"It is a sad reflection on the entire education system that at such an early stage these students are condemned to limited opportunities as a result of not doing well at a single examination: the Secondary School Entrance Examination," President Jagdeo noted.
This is a "serious impediment" in terms of empowering young people and providing opportunities for them to develop their full potential, he noted.
It is comforting to hear that some progress has been recorded in addressing this situation because no child should be deprived of the opportunity of realising his/her full educational potential.
There will always be low achievers and those who will fail academically but they should be given an equal chance of writing exams that could increase their opportunities of getting good jobs when they leave school.
An important factor in this regard is the relevance of what is taught in schools.
"The education we provide to our children must be relevant to the developmental aspirations of the individual and by extension to the nation, as a whole.
"Emphasis can no longer be on...reading, writing and arithmetic, important as these are. The imperatives of our time now require a new set of skills and competencies if we are to cope with, and face up to the challenges of the knowledge-based society," the President said.
Education has been given top priority for countries in the hemisphere to help them develop faster and it is to the government's credit that it continues to give education high priority for allocations in the national budget.
This is the IT era - Information Technology - and the young in this country have to be hooked into what is taking place in the world around them.
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