The process in which high school choices are made before a student sits the common entrance examination ought to be reversed, St George North MP Gline Clarke has suggested.
In a bid to prevent numerous transfer requests and minimise the numbers of students commuting from St George to distant rural schools, the backbencher is asking that the examination be taken first and then the school chosen based on the marks earned.
He told the House of Assembly: “Do the exam first then choose the schools. That way you chose based on your marks and your community. The common entrance is held in reverse. Once the exam is written parents, students and the ministry would sit down and select the school. If I get below certain marks I go to the school in my zone.”
He blamed the current zoning system for putting pressure on the Transport Board which in turn caused students to get to school late on mornings and get home late on evenings.
The former transport minister continued: “[Zoning] is causing pressure on the Ministry of Transport and works because they have to ferry children all over the place. It is causing tremendous concern. It is causing problems in the society. You have children getting school at 10 a.m. and getting home at 6 p.m. because they have to traverse from St Lucy to St George to Christ Church. Yes, the education system has helped us, but in these times we need to amend our ways and look at the system.”
He argued that the change would stop the numerous requests for transfers the ministry now faces every September.
Clarke said: “Parents come in after the exam and ask for transfers. Have you ever asked the question: ‘Why are you asking for transfer?’” They ask for transfers because the child got less marks or more marks. We need to sit down and look at the system. We need fundamental changes to stop parents from coming to ministry demanding: ‘I want a transfer’. You are putting too much strain on the system.”
Clarke also recommended curriculum reform, urging more attention be paid to teaching and honing life skills as opposed to the traditional subjects.
“We need to have more technical education in the system,” the MP said. “We need to have more skills being taught, rather than teaching like history and the classical subjects.”