All is not lost

The Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Senator Harcourt Husbands, says despite poor student performance in Mathematics and Science subjects in Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations, the situation can be turned around.

Pointing out that it has been recognized globally that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects were critical to economic development, Husbands said: “The Caribbean is no exception. Barbados is no exception.”

However, he said for improvement to occur, there was a need for more capacity building among students, which should be led by teachers at the primary school level.

“While I appreciate the significance of the numbers of how poorly some of our students perform in Mathematics at the level of CXC, I would only suggest that all is not lost,” Husbands said.

Senator Harcourt Husbands
Senator Harcourt Husbands

“It is known that the results of Science and Maths examinations offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council are below an acceptable level. We must overcome the challenge being encountered in order to accelerate the region’s development through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. To this end, the main area of focus must be teacher training,” added Husbands.

In that regard, he said greater emphasis was needed on providing courses in knowledge content and practical areas, “specifically how to teach Mathematics and Science”.

Husbands was among speakers at the opening of a primary science education workshop at the 3Ws Oval this morning. Describing the workshop as a step in the right direction, he urged teachers to use the knowledge gained to “impact the lives of the children”.

“The region cannot actualize the associated benefits of STEM unless it builds capacity in its human resources. Our capacity building efforts must start with the teachers at the primary level as you are the ones charged with building that sound platform of knowledge, skills and attitudes which are required for success at all levels in the educational system,” he urged participating teachers from the Eastern Caribbean.

He acknowledged that the journey would also require collaboration and partnerships with service clubs and other groups, as well as co-operation from all stakeholders. He said while greater focus was needed on STEM education, areas such as the arts and history should not, however, be left out. (MM)

7 Responses to All is not lost

  1. Tony Webster November 24, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Good question, indeed, to which I can only offer an Old Chinese ( now in fashion) proverb: ” thou shalt not ask inconvenient questions”

    Such as, why cannot simple citizens and taxpayers, have sight / access to ALL relevant treaties, loan agreements, contracts, M.O.U.’s etc, signed in our name, and at least ostensibly, for our collective benefit?

    If we are entrusted as individuals, to select our representatives in Parliament, wherefore the reciprocal trust…and respect?

    • Bernard Codrington. November 24, 2015 at 8:49 am

      How does the level of mathematics performance compare with USA,UK Germany and Canada? I do not think that the Barbadian students do any worse. Ministers and people who make speeches always must find something to criticize rather than praise those who have reached the standards set. Positive encouragement is more productive than fault finding. Put the teaching resources in place. Reward the teachers more appropriately.

  2. Sue Donym November 24, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Given recent patterns, STEM is nothing more than a talking point. Every minister must have a chance to work the new buzzwords into their speech and when it’s all said and nothing done it will just be Same Talk Every Month.

  3. Tony Waterman November 24, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    @Bernard Codrington.!!!! “” I do not think that the Barbadian students do any worse.””You are adding to the problem, not helping.You Either Know, or you don’t Know, please do NOT THINK. Are they or Are they Not ??? Guessing will not help solve this Dilemma, BTW!!! The Education Minister just a year ago was aghast at the amount of DIALECT that was encountered in the 11 Plus English Exam.
    So “Sue” this is more than Buzz Words, the Levels have slipped Considerably in the Last 25 or so years.

    • Sue Donym November 25, 2015 at 8:06 am

      Well “Tony” you managed to totally miss the point that just talking is not going to help anything. The fact is that we need to observe, assess and act accordingly rather than just talk the talk, I mean… “more capacity building among students”; “providing courses in knowledge content”? Basics! Fundamentals! Methods! Excited students and eager teachers! Everything in place. By now the talk should be about what is being done.

      It’s not just a topic to sound trendy about. It’s essential to get current and be dynamic or continue to be left behind!

      • Bernard Codrington. November 26, 2015 at 12:15 pm

        Thank you Sue at least you understood the point and how to correct the supposed deficiency. Have you noticed how well our students perform at tertiary level schools in the USA? Some who left here with only 4 CXCs? Do you know how many American professors on learning that I come from Barbados ask that we send more students to their institutions? Atleast half a dozen . We must be doing something right.

        • Sue Donym November 27, 2015 at 9:50 pm

          Appreciate your answer. Which makes one question where the setbacks are occurring. It could also be that the other institutions are more skilled in guiding the students at the higher levels. Maybe it’s methods, class sizes, tutorial methods, assessment/correction opportunities, resources and not just student abilities.


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