It may be an ideal time to now review our entire education system. The challenges of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), along with the implementation of online instruction, should be the catalyst that leads to introducing a new dispensation for education in our country.
Let us first address the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA); which has traditionally been known for imposing unnecessary stress on children. But more importantly, it is an exam that expects that at a particular age, all children must be equally cognitively prepared to sit an exam that impacts their academic lives so significantly.
Imagine a future where entrance to high school is based on portfolio assessment; where pupils from primary schools are evaluated only on accumulative grades. All pupils go to high school. All pupils complete a placement assessment at all high schools to determine what level of instruction would be their starting point after already being placed at a high school.
Portfolio assessment will also be used to have pupils enter the universities; in particular, the local universities: the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and The University of the West Indies (The UWI). The US and Canadian secondary schools that operate in T&T already use a similar process to have their pupils enter foreign universities.
After Fifth Form, our pupils would be eligible to enter The UWI and UTT, without having to complete Lower and Upper Six. This system already applies to The UWI in both Jamaica and Barbados.
It is better to extend the period to acquire The UWI degree by one year, to now be a four-year programme. Roytec, over the years, has provided students to enter The UWI system, many of whom have not completed Sixth Form.
Another component that must be examined is whether there is a balance between students pursuing technical programmes versus traditional BA and BSc programmes.
We must determine the needs of our country; possibly to provide incentives to create that balance, which will inevitably meet our realistic needs.
It’s a lot to think about, but now is the time to analyse the data, be innovative and embrace our new reality.
Maracas Valley/St Joseph