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Education Minister opposes students writing numerous CXC subjects

cxc_logoMinister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine  on Saturday said he is in strongly in favour of discouraging secondary school students from writing more than eight Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) subjects because those who sit more than that number of exams are not benefiting from a rounded education.

“I am strongly in favour of whatever mechanism we can find to discourage the taking of so many subjects. I think eight subjects are ample where people can do the fundamental subjects- Math, English, Science and so on- that they need to do and have a better childhood,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

Roopnaraine said the Ministry of Education’s  decision-makers were yet to discuss how the matter should be addressed but he was not in favour of students being robbed of extra-curricula activities. “I do not believe that students should spend all of their time regurgitating information. Children should be given a chance to grow. They should do music, they should do sport. They should do a lot more things…theatre in schools. There is a lot that children can be doing and they won’t be able to do that if their entire time is taken up preparing for examinations,” he said.

The Minister of Education first raised the issue in remarks after a Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited-sponsored Autism Awareness Walk that began and ended at the Promenade Gardens in Georgetown. I must say that when I hear a child has passed twenty-two subjects at an examination, I have to ask myself what kind of childhood is that child having and this is why we in the ministry are placing great emphasis on what I think of as the non-academic aspects  of education but which I think contribute to the making of a whole child,” he said.

The Education Minister’s concerns came even as Guyanese students are pushing to write much more than eight subjects.  Demerara Waves Online News was told that a Queen’s College student is slated to write 22 CXC subjects this year. Information is that another student is already preparing to write 25 subjects in 2017.

Sources at the school have confirmed that a female student is preparing to write 22 CXC subjects, the highest number to be written in the country and the Caribbean according to available information.

Additional information is that there may be an increased in the number of students writing a larger number of subjects at the school.

Each year, as students increase the number of subjects written, debates seem to intensify on what possible negative impacts the perceived “burden” of sitting these subjects may be having on students.

Last year was not the first time had student had written 29 subjects, but when the country’s top performer passed with 20 ones, an examination of the matter was requested.

In 2013, a CXC official had noted that the Council did not encourage students to write more than 20 subjects. The Council had supported Guyana nonetheless when the former Education Minister had noted that there would not be a limit on the number of subjects students are allowed to write.

(by Denis Chabrol and Zena Henry)

  • Col123

    The question and concern for this Minister should be centered around the welfare of ALL Guyanese children …especially the ones who get out of bed at 4 or 5 am to help with family chores( milking cows, tending to farming needs) before getting to school in the morning, having access to only minimal nutritional intake daily, having one set of school uniform to attend school..those without text books,struggle with transportation costs… those who help with family chores after school.(pruning ans clearing vines from orange/tangerine trees, weeding cassava beds on weekends….Mr Minister…What kind of extracurricular activities are available to our kids in the country areas?..with children of families who are struggling to put food on the table?…and those whose parents cannot afford them any further education after success with the many important CXC subjects they took…
    Mr Minister..what percentage of our kids are taking these twenty odd subjects?…How many opportunities are their for those passing your eight “fundamental subjects”?..More importantly…can you reveal how many subject your closest school age relative took at these CXC?…and please..explain what you mean by “rounded education”?…Where are the vocational training school for those unable to take any subjects at CXC?

    • rudeo

      do a follow up and say where and what did the 8+ subject holders achieve over the normal 6 GCE subjects in my days…..oh in the 50s and 60s…..we went on with our rounded education to become top of our classes qualified professionals…..we had a chance to grow as children,,,,school from 8:30 to 3:00 Monday to Friday…..happy games and life skills played learnt on our weekends and vacations…..we did not have pull-alongs with a bookstore of texts….no lessons from 6:00 am to 8:30 am and from 3:30 pm to 9:00 pm including Saturdays and Sundays….we were given our God-given rights to enjoy our childhood….Minister Roopnarine is one who can openly condemn the vicious cycle of private lessons robbing children the best part of their lives…CHILDHOOD….and leaving schools with all head and no sense..bravo Min Roopnarine…..we need a public outcry…..yours truly did 6 GCE O-levels and 3 GCE A-levels and became a natural scientist who can sit with any of the top tier academicians of my time…..away with a meaningful shopping list and the boast..”I have SUBJECTS”,,,,shame on what is described as the premier school in Guyana registering a student for 22 CXC subjects…pray tell me what a medical student will do with all the wishy-washy subjects other than Math, English A, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and a relative foreign language and/or Information Tech?

      • Col123

        R..Please say we are required to do compulsory liberals courses as we pursue our university majors?eg..why is there a requirement to study Blaclk history,Black family and culture,Native American hx and culture etc..as premed requirements?..in a prominent Black college?

        • rudeo

          why is the USA regarded as the benchmark for academic pursuits?….our students are now studying in China among other non-American universities….and are doing well and even better than a lot of their counterparts who flock to the USA…..we have to be practical and sensible….we want scientists for our badly needed speed up in manufacturing and creating new vistas for our economic take off and successes….why 20 – 22 subjects at a 5th Form level?….16-year olds?….the burn out at useless day and night lessons?….we have to bite the bullet and save our young people…..tell me….what would an employer do with a graduate from 5th form with 22 subjects against one with 6 core subjects in his manufacturing business? .. do you really think that a professor distinguishes between a Guyanese student with 22 CXC passes and a Asian student with 6 core subjects in his Math or Physics class?….I am 4-square behind any move to reduce this madness of taking a shopping list of CXC subjects…..core subjects….4 CAPE subjects in the relevant career pursuits….boom….see the spurt in natural sciences graduates….some years ago as head of the Old Students Association suggested 8 CXC subjects and was loudly decried by parents, students and schools administrations….how sad

          • Col123

            rudeo…it is foolhardy to put down the US for any of its weaknesses…because along its weaknesses , she has untold,unbelievable strengths…The Minister needs to address the challenges of those struggling to get a secondary education and to address the requirement for vocational/technical training, for those who can’t make it past primary school….Those many subjects with distinctions would look more competitive on a college application….lets not race for the bottom…Look…with a god secondary preparation…a four year college degree would be a cake walk ..with all those subjects behind you….it would be easier to select a major field of study….more time for fooling around with the girls, take up golfing…smile more with some of those immature female college professors…work part time…

  • Emile_Mervin

    How about getting teachers to discern early in students whether they are CXC candidates or vocational education candidates? There are students who will do well in technical trades and, to this end, there should be vocational classes for 15-year old students still in school but clearly not CXC candidates.

    Barack Obama took heat a few years ago for advocating for vocational education: electricians, mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, welders/fabricators, draftsmen/women, electronic technicians, etc. It would surprise some folks that ceratin certified and licensed tradesmen and women are making more money ($50 to $75 hour) than those who have CXCs and first degrees.

    And if Guyana is going have balanced development, it will need a professional and technical workforce.

    • Col123

      EM : you are on track …would entertain your comments further on what the Minister is advocating…

      • Emile_Mervin

        Agreement is duly noted, and this is why I blogged about five years ago that Guyana needs a vocational curriculum in high schools.

        And it won’t hurt if education becomes integral to the prison system so that youths who fell through the cracks and ended up in prison could learn a trade while doing time. These could then be easily re-integrated into society by being gainfully employed after doing time.

        It has to grab the attention of political leaders that something is radically wrong when you have a 40% youth unemployment rate, an economy not creating enough jobs for youths, and a prison population swelling with youths. Time is long past to think outside the box.

        • Col123

          I don’t think we need any more jail house lawyers!..just kidding

    • Surujpaul Rampersaud

      The education system in Guyana is tailored for this. The eleven plus exams do allocate children to schools based on scoring. However, eleven plus is too early to determine a child’ future and there should be forward and backward movements from Community High Schools to general secondary schools. The CHS were all intended to be skill based schools. In addition to this the Multilateral schools had wonderful programs to cater for children according to their leanings. You have the humanities, science, agriculture, technology, business, home economics and even art and art and craft. I taught at one such school and saw many students move on to GSA, UG, GTI, Burrowes School of Art etc. I agree with you that vocational education is the way to go. Possibly Guyana is a step ahead of the USA. We have the infrastructure, all we need is to to expand and build on it. Just to let you know, I have heard many Americans say that they do not need to train people, they will provide the motivation to come. If you study the graduates of the Port Mourant Apprentice School, you will notice that many of them have migrated to Canada.

      • Emile_Mervin

        I left Guyana in 1988, so I can’t say the educational system in Guyana is tailored for either 10 to 15 CXCs or vocational education, because according to an IDB 2015 report, Guyana has a 40% youth unemployment rate, which is the highest in the Caribbean.

        But vocational training is integral to infrastructural development, and since there will be those with an aptitude for trade-related jobs, it makes sense to identify these aptitudes early and start working on them.

        I know of Guyanese who were not that bright in primary school so they never got past Common Entrance. One became an electrician through National Service and now has his own electrical store. Another became a welder/fabricator in Canada earning CN$70 an hour.

        The minister may want to emphasize quality of subjects over quantity of subjects for the academically inclined student.

        • Surujpaul Rampersaud

          Emile, I think you do not know how the education system operates. There is an eleven plus examination that allocates students to different schools. This is too early to determine a child’ s future and does not cater for the late developer. The high school system should provide the skills to move on in whatever field you so desire. Are you aware that within the secondary school system there is scope for technical drawing, metal work, wood work ( carpentry) etc. In addition to the TI in Georgetown and New Amsterdam there are others all over the country, the latest being at Park, Mahaicony. You migrated in 1988, I left ten years you later having spent a some thirty years in education. They way you put it is that the US should be the model for education. How do you account for so many young people especially Black youths to be employed. I am still concerned about education and Guyana. I visit Guyana every two years and check first hand on changes in education. You seem bent on restoring National Service. Yes this can play a small part if we take the military aspect out of it. Your argument on NS does not hold water. Some prisoners learn valuable trades in jail and are rehabilitated when they leave. How many?

  • rudeo

    Thanks

  • Col123

    So now, it is a race to the bottom with academia..what next..a B or C grade is fine…and oh.. an English name will earn you more respect…and …well change your religion and we will throw in those scholarships !

  • Col123

    Truth:..your comments would fit well with the other bloggers at SN…but welcome to this site…you are free to reject my “crap”…not sure why you read it..you must have some attraction or propensity to read “crap”?..eh!.the article should have named those subjects for your interest…let me leave you with this …EDUCATION is the only intangible which can propel anyone and generations out of poverty!

  • Surujpaul Rampersaud

    I think you have clearly misunderstood what the honorable minister is saying. He is in now way dictating what students should write. What he is saying is that by focusing on so many subjects, our children are missing childhood. Nowadays our children focus so much on school work , regular schooling then lesson classes that they do not have much time to enjoy childhood and life. The minister like me is reminiscing on the days when school days were fun. We played sports, and enjoyed all those extra and co curricular activities and still did well academically. These activities make well rounded people, willing to work with others for the general good. I do hope that you may now revisit what you have written

    • Col123

      SR…the Minister expressed concerns about the AMOUNT of subjects written by students, and the conditions of not having extracurricular activities..that is really none of his business!…he is generalizing…he should concern himself with the kids from poor homes …with out the ability to afford much on secondary education…I know what it takes….Further… I know of and have a lot of friends who never studied and had better grades than the headmaster kids…I have been exposed to friends from other countries who slept through most classes and only studied for final exams…period..Most of my friends and I would have a night out …boozing …before final exams…and made A+…the most studies I have seen amongst my group of friends were three months prior to the state licensing boards…some of them showed up at the exam with hair loss…

  • Surujpaul Rampersaud

    Please read my response to Peter. Both of you need to focus on the issue and refrain from partisan politics