Leave 11-plus alone

A former teacher and Minister of State in the Ministry of Education is 100 per cent behind the Common Entrance Examination remaining the method of determining what secondary schools children attend when they leave the primary school level.

Cynthia Forde, a former primary school teacher of 25 years, told Barbados TODAY that the exam, formally called the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE), is a fair way to assess students for the transition.

Amid calls for the exam to be scrapped, the Member of Parliament for St Thomas expressed her support for the test on the sidelines of a Barbados Labour Party media briefing in the St Philip South constituency yesterday afternoon.

“It has always been my understanding and my experience that the bank manager’s child will write the exam at the same time as [the child of] his maid or gardener, and once that child has the ability and the training to write that examination, both of them could probably go to the older grammar schools or to the newer secondary schools, or perhaps go and get a bursary,” she said.

Forde, who served as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Culture before becoming Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport, said it was best not to tinker with the structure of the BSSEE without proper thought or guidance.

“It will only inhibit poor people’s children from being able to go into those schools that people perceive to be prestigious,” she said, adding that what needed to be eliminated was the pressure put on students sitting the examination.

“I believe that the exam as it is, is good. You just need to take out some of the emotion . . . and let the children do it as if it would be an end of term exam . . . . I’m all for the Common Entrance at this time as it is, but I want for them to take out some of the five and six textbooks in Math at one time; and lessons here today, and tomorrow with someone else; and take out the ‘unless you pass for Combermere don’t come back in my house because I went there’. I am tired of it .This society is too stigmatized and all it is doing is destroying our youth,” Forde lamented.

“The stigmatization and classism is what is killing our children. And we [have to] work with them and give them that one opportunity to do it smoothly without any pressure.”

She encouraged families and communities to work together to ensure children are properly prepared for the Common Entrance Exam, rather than simply pressure them to do well.

“Once you prepare the environment and the nurturing, and parents and teachers and community workers work with children so that it takes a whole village to raise a child, the Common Entrance would never be a problem. Work with them. Nurture them, embrace them. Encourage them, because you want them to do well. And if they don’t do well, once teaching takes place, learning takes place and once you stick to the methodology and you make every child feel like he or she is a human being who will excel . . . Barbados will be a wonderful place again.”

20 Responses to Leave 11-plus alone

  1. Cuales Nelz
    Cuales Nelz May 9, 2017 at 12:52 am

    In total agreement with her.

  2. KJ Heir
    KJ Heir May 9, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Well said!

  3. Joceline Blackett
    Joceline Blackett May 9, 2017 at 1:52 am

    I agree totally with Miss Forde. If I was in Barbados I would shake her hand. All the points she raise makes so much sense. Thanks for your true summarisation on this topic.

  4. Meakai May 9, 2017 at 2:52 am

    There is no need for the 11+ exam. All schools are equal and every child has to be placed in a school. Create and strictly enforce zones and stop this yearly spectacle.

    5/6 years later, there is one CXC exam. Grammar school or newer secondary matters not. Same exam. If anything, teachers at newer secondary schools should be paid more for getting the “not so bright” students to the stage where they are able to take the CXC exams at the same time as they “brighter and better” counterparts at the elite schools.
    Wunna politicians duz mek me sick. No vision whatsoever, but still believing wunna is Kings and Queens simply because…

    We really like um so!

  5. Janette Reifer
    Janette Reifer May 9, 2017 at 2:53 am

    All these clowns that want the 11plus abolish can’t come with a better way. Some people open their mouths to get attention.11 plus is the only way and the better way in this country. It is the fairest way…Believe it or not!

  6. Patsy Yearwood
    Patsy Yearwood May 9, 2017 at 5:27 am

    I agree with you Miss forde

  7. Kevin Armstrong
    Kevin Armstrong May 9, 2017 at 5:42 am

    Wait she aint retire yet! She mean she really aint leaving no sweets for anybody! But seriously though you had your time, you need to retire and make way for new blood in that party. Its like you’ll are grown up but still want to play with dolls and toy trucks!

  8. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall May 9, 2017 at 5:45 am

    I am supporting you 100 percent.

  9. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall May 9, 2017 at 5:50 am

    The 11+ is the way poor people children get a chance of a good education, even though it might not be prefect, leave your children at the hands of some teachers to evaluated , it’s he’ll for some children look how parents still have to go every year about the unfairness melt out to the children. Then the ministry makes you believed the parents the schools wrong.

  10. Dwayne Griffith
    Dwayne Griffith May 9, 2017 at 5:55 am

    11+ could finish go to the closest secondary set a exam to choose wat class u goin into n learn if u wnt to from dey simple

  11. Phia Cumberbatch
    Phia Cumberbatch May 9, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I agree with Miss Forde, we all see all schools are the same when we know it to be different. What needs to be done is specialized teaching for those who are not so academically inclined ,because children who can use their hands can make more money sometimes than those with academic qualification.

  12. Mikey May 9, 2017 at 9:06 am


  13. Helicopter(8P) May 9, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Welcoming good thought on the point of learning! Would it not be the quality of the teachers’ instructions and the manner in which it is disseminated by the students that makes the difference? Seeing that all secondary school teachers are expected to have passed and graduated from the Teachers Training College it would leave me to behold that all schools should be up to par. We will always have A students. Excellence can be attained by fine tuning the desired student into the subjects of his or her more motivated enthusiasm. We need to take prejudice out of the public school system. If parents feel disheartened with Government Secondary schools then the private school tuition should be able to fulfill their needs!

  14. jrsmith May 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Well said ,100% agree with the Forde lady , look at the educational mess in the (UK) kids way below average , lots of them could hardly spell they own names , we need to stare our own ship ……………………………………

    • Coralita May 9, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      You need to employ the services of the Forde lady to teach you the correct use of they, there and their and stare and stair.

      Just say. Lololololol

  15. Sheron Inniss May 9, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    All schools are not equal. The infrastructure at some of the older secondary schools are not up to par. Some of the newer ones have better. Some teachers are great, others not. That being said this system is broke. I never liked it from young and I still believe it sucks. In my time the exam was in two parts.

  16. jrsmith May 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Thats why Massa have barbados in control, yes sir no sir 3 bags full sir……

  17. Reg May 9, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    ”The stigmatization and classism is what is killing our children,” not only in education but in every walk of life. We judge each other, not only on the colour of our skin but which school we went to. I was never a fan of the 11-plus exam, it seems to me that all the bigup kids got into the so called better schools. Thankfully, my kids were born in a country with the Zoning Enrollment System where parents decide which school their kids attend.

  18. Chamieka Ishaq May 11, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Whether you like it or not, some people are more intelligent than others, and exams are how we identify them. The brightest kids belong in elite schools because nowhere else is capable of training them to meet their potential. We need the common entrance simply because it’s the easiest way to filter out the ‘useless’ kids that we all know will go on to produce nothing but more kids, so that we don’t have to waste our strained school resources on endless remedial lessons for those who never should have been there in the first place.
    Face it, one dumb kid in a classroom slows the whole class down, because the teachers have to keep wasting time coming back to them to explain things that all the other kids understood immediately. Better to send them someplace where all the kids are on the same level than put them in a school where they just can’ t compete..


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