‘Shocking’ education data revealed

The education system in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is coming under further fire for failing to meet the needs of students, with one scholar claiming it was creating a “world-class elite”, but a large percentage of people were “falling through the cracks”.

University Professor Dr Justin Robinson made a “shocking” revelation last night about the ability of Caribbean secondary school pupils to pass ordinary level examinations.

Robinson disclosed that figures released at a recent meeting of CARICOM’s Human Resource Development Commission showed that more than 90 per cent of students could not pass five subjects in one sitting.

He told a Barbados International Business Association panel discussion at the Grand Salle of the Barbados Central Bank these statistics meant a large number of the region’s students were in need of urgent help.

“The data for CARICOM is really quite shocking,” he said, revealing that only eight-and-a-half per cent of any group of secondary school students across the region had been obtaining five of more General Certificate of  Examination Ordinary Level subject passes in one year.

It was just this week at the Fifth International Conference on Higher Education that Barbados’ education system had come for severe criticism from a senior official of the Inter American Development  Bank (IDB), who had warned that even though the island was considered a leader in Latin America and the Caribbean, its overall level of learning was still way below par.

Basing her assessment on studies done between 1999 and 2012, Dr Mariana Alfonso, a Senior Education Specialist at the IDB, said many school leavers could not even meet the basic requirement of four Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) passes for entry into the public service.

“Of the students who actually take that exam, 50 per cent obtain far more CSEC passes, but only after multiple sittings,” Alphonso had pointed out.

In fact, she had said “only 6.1 per cent of the students in Barbados get the four passes in the first sitting of the exam”.

In his presentation last night, Robinson also revealed that only 7.2 per cent of students would have both Maths and English among the five subjects.

“Our school system is creating a world-class elite, but quite a large number are falling through the cracks. There is clearly a need for urgent solutions that can get to more students,” he said.

The CARICOM Human Resource Development Commission was launched in Barbados on May 12, with one of its objectives being to develop policy recommendations for education reform in CARICOM member states. 

7 Responses to ‘Shocking’ education data revealed

  1. Hal Austin October 20, 2016 at 5:17 am

    Two days ago an education specialist spoke out bout the quality of education in Barbados. Surprise, surprise, now Justin Robinson is doing the same. This is the intellectual equivalent of cutting and pasting or simply plagiarising.
    It is nonsense to suggest that Barbados (and maybe the English-speaking Caribbean) produce a world-class elite. Nonsense. Ignoring the elitism for a minute, any English-speaking Caribbean person of world class has had value added overseas.
    Justin, please come up with original ideas. You are a good mathematician, sticks to maths.
    Erase the national insurance and the central bank from you active CV.

  2. Tony Webster October 20, 2016 at 10:40 am

    @Hal Austin: on-target and in tune Sir!
    I would prefer to refer to those brights points of light in our little fish-ponds, who became Nobel Laureates, and so to inspire all Caribbean citizens, to realize that such potential is indeed within the grasp of individuals yet unknown.
    However, our general slide down the rankings in the three basic “R’s”, is nothing but calamitous, and shameful. These are the absolute minimal foundation for all other aspects of formal education at secondary and tertiary levels, and we need a couple things right now:
    1. Leaders, who can see the writing on the wall, and can face up to their responsibilities.
    2. Public-service professionals at all levels, to implement fundamental reforms.
    3. Parents to push those charged with educational policy and reform, either forward….or off the cliff.

  3. Donild Trimp October 20, 2016 at 11:55 am

    “many school leavers could not even meet the basic requirement of four Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) passes for entry into the public service”.

    In Canada and the USA four CSEC’s will not qualify you to work at McDonald’s or Burger King.

  4. Neil Edwards October 20, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I commented on this matter and I see that my comment was not posted. I see that this newspaper has an agenda and a seriously biased one.
    CSECs and CAPE are accepted by Universities all around the world, including in Canada, USA and UK how else would scholar winners gain entry into those institutions.

    The ignorance amazes me. You would publish a bunch of illogical and incorrect posts but you not one of fact. Sad sad sad.

  5. Whitehill October 20, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    How many times I was made to believe I was speaking Dutch or Chinese…Now I know the fault lies not with me.

  6. F.A.Rudder October 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Does education and learning stop at secondary level schools? How about promoting Vocational and technical schools on the island? If we are to be a nation of literates lets balance our literacy and have good productivity quotas. In the long run; human resources needs a balanced community of personnel; technicians, craftsmen, technologist and busyness majors. Without these main stream groups the nation is at waste.

  7. Leroy October 20, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Great article Dr Robinson. It speaks volumes about Barbados and the English speaking Caribbean.. I wonder if the authorities are willing to listen and take the necessary steps.. Will the downward slide continue? Time will surely tell!


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