Increased education budgets have improved core CXC subjects, says Jeffrey
Stabroek News
September 5, 2003

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Education Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey has said that performances in English A and Mathematics at Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exams have increased appreciably over the past five years, “if somewhat unevenly.”

The Ministry of Education held a briefing on Guyana’s performance at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations yesterday. From left are Director of NCERD, Mohandat Goolsaran; Education Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey, and Superintendent of Examinations, Juliet Persico. (Photo by Ken Moore)

However, he noted the “need to further improve our performance in these two subjects.”

In English A, candidates gaining grades One to Three improved from 1,181 or 23.3% in 1998 to 2,898 or 37.4% this year.

In Mathematics, those gaining grades One to Three increased from 829, or 17.9 per cent, in 1998 to 1,856, or 24.8%, this year. Grade Four is not used for satisfying matriculation requirements for entry to university four-year programmes, community colleges, teacher college or tertiary post-CSEC programmes.

Jeffrey told reporters at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) in Kingston yesterday that what was discernable from the figures was that although many more persons were taking the examinations, over the last decade there had been a steady improvement in performance, in terms of percentage and actual passes.

He said that the improvement was noted whether or not the figures were looked at before or after 1997 when the grading system was changed.

Without some understanding of the various dimensions of resource availability, he said that the interpretation of the figures could be superficial.

He said much of the talk about reaching Caribbean standards, “is without great merit because it fails to take into consideration actual resource availability and the fact that, from the standpoint of education, the government of Guyana is perhaps making the greatest national effort in the Commonwealth Caribbean, spending some 8.3% of the GDP on the sector.”

Yet in spite of a better showing by other Caribbean countries, which spend less in terms of their GDP on education, Dr Jeffrey said countries such as Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago actually spend more resources on each child.

The Guyana public sector spends US$175 on a child per year compared to US$888 spent by T&T on a child and US$1,200 in Barbados.

He noted results in recent years from the School of the Nations and Mae’s Secondary, both private schools, showed a percentage performance way above the results of public schools in Guyana and of the entire Caribbean.

He announced that an analysis was being done of the impact the private education system was having on the country’s education sector.

Director of NCERD, Mohandat Goolsarran said that the overall pass rate, using grades One to Four, stood at 76.9 per cent, a marginal drop of 0.2% over last year and a 19.6% increase over 1997. He said the private entries could account for the marginal drop.

Further he said that a substantial part of the instructional programme of some schools was affected by the teachers’ industrial action.

Goolsarran released figures of the performances from 1995 to the present time. These figures, Dr Jeffrey said, could increase public awareness of the kind of difficulties the education sector faced; enhance stakeholder participation which was crucial for overall success and helping to dispel many of the myths to which the sector was prone.

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