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.