CXC tests performance-
Guyana shows marginal decrease over last year’s results
September 5, 2003
‘Greater stakeholder participation in the school system, particularly greater parental involvement, improved school management and sense of greater commitment by teachers despite the difficult circumstances under which they function, have all contributed to the improved performances over the past decade.’
-- Dr Jeffrey, Minister of Education
By Chamanlall Naipaul
THE performance of Guyana at this year’s Caribbean Secondary Examinations Certificate (CSEC) has shown a 19.7 per cent overall increase over that of 1997.The results indicate a standing at 76 per cent and represents a marginal decrease of 0.2 per cent compared with last year’s performance.
Director of the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD), Dr. Mohandatt Goolsarran, who was speaking at a press conference hosted by Minister of Education Dr. Henry Jeffrey, attributed the marginal decrease to the inclusion of private entries that were factored into the analysis for the first time.
Private schools accounted for 1,072 entries or about 3 per cent of national entries for this year, while the national subject entries were 42,410 of which 7,553 were private entries. This represented an increase of 39 per cent compared with 1997.
A striking feature of this year’s results is that the number of students who got five or more grade ones was about twice the number for last year, increasing from 67 to 128, Superintendent of Examinations Ms Juliet Persico disclosed.
Dr. Jeffrey noted that over the past ten years, there has been a steady improvement in examination results, but conceded that there is scope for significant improvements, particularly in English Language and Mathematics, which have shown improved levels of performances but still continue to lag behind other subject areas.
He said greater stakeholder participation in the school system, particularly greater parental involvement, improved school management and sense of greater commitment by teachers despite the difficult circumstances under which they function, have all contributed to the improved performances over the past decade.
Responding to the situation of Guyana’s performance being below that of its counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica, the Minister contended that it is not a proper comparison because resources being expended on education must be taken into account.
Giving figures to support his contention, Dr Jeffrey said while the per capita spending on education in Trinidad and Barbados are US$888 and US$1,000 respectively, for Guyana it is US$175, even though 8.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on the education sector. He added: “The Government of Guyana is making perhaps the greatest national effort by states in the Commonwealth Caribbean.”
“Without some understanding of the various dimensions of resource availability, these types of interpretations can be clearly superficial. What is clearly discernible from the figures is that although many more persons are taking the examinations, over the last decade there has been a steady improvement in performance - both in terms of percentage and actual passes. This is so whether or not we look at performance over the entire period or at developments before and after 1997. Over the last half decade, performances in English A and Mathematics have increased appreciably, even if somewhat unevenly. In English A, those gaining grades 1-3 improved from 1,181 or 22.3 per cent in 1998 to 2,898 or 37.4 per cent in 2003. In Mathematics, those gaining grades 1-3 increased from 829 or 17.9 per cent in 1998 to 1,856 or 24.8 per cent in 2003. Notwithstanding these increases, we all agree that we need to further improve our performance in these two subjects,” Dr. Jeffrey declared.
He added that the results of a few private schools would show that they are above the Caribbean average because of the greater resources that are available within the private education sector.
Dr. Goolsarran, in supporting the Minister’s premise, pointed out that there has been a correlation between improved examination results and increased budgetary allocations for the education sector.
As regards the small number of students opting for science subjects, Dr. Jeffrey offered that it is a worldwide trend, but efforts are being made to make the teaching of those subjects more pleasurable. He conceded, though, that laboratory and other facilities needed for the teaching of science must be improved.
As regards the migration of teachers, Minister Jeffrey disclosed that about 250 teachers leave the education system annually. But he emphasised that the resources are “simply not available” to pay the salaries that they desire. Consequently, he said, his Ministry in formulating its plans to take that factor into account.