There has been a steep drop in the number of applications for secondary school reallocation received by the Ministry of Education following the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, commonly referred to as the Common Entrance Examination.
According to Minister of Education Ronald Jones, the figure has been reduced from approximately 900 applications in 2008, to no more than 70 at present.
“We have gotten down now to very, very good numbers. There are about 60 or 70 who come, but when I first came to the ministry it used to be 900 persons seeking reallocation. I always wondered if person made mistakes in their choice in the zone or out of zone,” Jones revealed during the recent Speech Day and prize giving ceremony at The St Michael School.
Jones attributed the decrease to parents having a better understanding of how the allocation process works and the ministry’s firm approach to dealing with the issue in the initial stages of his tenure.
“I don’t have any duty in allocating anything; it is all done technologically based on parental choice. I do not intervene in the process of allocation, I might intervene in the process of reallocation and every year I therefore said when we were speaking to the media that there would not be any reallocations.
“I came to the conclusion that parents [at the time] did not understand essentially what they were doing in the choice,” he said.
The minister explained that the cut-off varied from year to year based on the students’ performance in a particular year, meaning if the overall performance in a given year was exceptional, the cut-off mark would be higher.
However, he said, parents acted on
the belief that the entry marks for the considered top schools remained static over the years.
“Some will say to me ‘but my child got the mark to go to St Michael, Queen’s College or Combermere’. Yes, but you would only know the cut-off base when the results are returned. So it doesn’t work like that at all,” stressed Jones, who noted that sometimes exceptions were made if space was available.