The favoured 10 per cent

Your writer’s article on More at stake than tuition fees, has caused me to reflect on another aspect at this time with Common Entrance results, upcoming CXC results, access to institutions to do CAPE,or further studies, and the path to University.

To vent a bit. A comment not so long ago about a low percentage of students acquiring tertiary education in the light of universal access at all levels. Barbados has been compared with other Latin American and Caribbean countries which still don’t have that situation, and have a higher percent. It raised some defensive reaction but our attitudes, rules, practices and barriers cause it to be so.

We make out 90 per cent of our students to be of low ability and incapable of development and progress. The path to tertiary education is made hard and frustrating. This is not political so I am not referring to any minister present or past. I am talking about principals, teachers, people in high places, parents of ‘the other children’, a large part of society.

What bothers me is that most of those persons who are in control of the decision making in education were not in the 10 per cent but had the opportunities open to them to move ahead to advanced/tertiary level. Now that they are in place, they use the agenda of only ‘ those who have the Scholarship potential’ deserve the opportunity. Now we are only ‘educating’ 10 per cent or less and then get upset when statements are made in the international arena.

My ‘more at stake’ has to do with the experiences of the students themselves. Our system only seem to make it viable for about 10 per cent to move through the system towards tertiary education. I would like to know if I am correct on these following points: about 10 per cent of children score at the top of the common entrance exam and go to so-called top schools. The remainder are told that they can still make it and be successful in the same five years.

Many do, and pass their CXC exams ( according to the current grading systems) with grades 1, 2, and 3 in the five subjects minimum. Those that miss the mark do not get a second chance as most schools do not take back students into 5th form as a rule, and only a few as the exception. So what about gaining my CVQs? Where can I go?

I ask you to find out this: is it true that even though Grade 3 is a ‘pass’, that those with it are NOT given the opportunity to do CAPE since 6th form schools don’t want them? They don’t have scholarship potential. Is this fair? Are we pre-determining the children’s future without giving them the opportunity or is our teaching so deficient that we can’t move them to a higher level?

I hear that children are being labelled and streamed from reception level in primary schools. So we have again the 10 per cent who get to do the CAPE,even with increased 6th Forms and the lot out there who have to struggle along with their parents to help further their education. There are not even places to go and continue like the Modern High School of the past to take them to 6th Form.

With CXC SBA components at both levels, the continuing education classes are limited in their subject offerings.  Talk about STEM subjects? Yet the simplest of jobs advertised are asking for degrees. How can we develop manufacturing? How can we reduce unemployment? All countries depend on the ‘other’ than 10 per cent for development and progress ratings.

So how can remove these biases and discrimination from the access to equal opportunities? How can we lift up our people? What do we need to do to replace the label of low level of education? I know this is long and may not be published but I would like to hear of your analysis and evaluation of education in Barbados and recommendations of the situation which will be facing us shortly when the CXC results come out and the students and parents are asking “’what to do?” for those who did not get 7 grade 1s’ ,and got 3s instead. Or those who passed four subjects grade 3 and above and would like to add more.

We know those who pass 3 or less are done with.

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