There is likely to be an 11-plus exam again next year, despite Government’s plans to abolish the annual test.
Minister of Education Kay McConney hinted at that on Tuesday as she disclosed that authorities were still engaged in consultations to determine when that move away from the Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination (BSSEE) would actually happen.
“Is this the last year? Let us see where the consultations take us. I suspect not,” Minister McConney said in a response to a question posed by the media at a press conference at the Ministry to announce the results of this year’s exam.
She stressed, however, that the BSSEE, which determines how students transition from primary to secondary level, was part of wider reform in the education system.
“It’s just one aspect of the overall reform. There have been some conversations about this for a very long time and I have no doubt that we will have further discussions with stakeholders, as well as with the public on this matter, before such a transition is made,” the Education Minister said.
“And I must tell you, we have already had some discussions within Cabinet. We are having further today, in fact, with some other stakeholders on the overall reform agenda, and once we have been able to come to the concept that we are able now to move to the public phase, we will be moving from parish to parish, having consultations across Barbados on the broader reform agenda.”
In March this year, during the 2022/2023 Estimates in the House of Assembly, Director of the Education, Technological and Vocational Training Dr Idamay Denny revealed that a proposal outlining the assessment system that would replace BSSEE next year was set to go before Parliament within a few weeks.
“….Having had the Common Entrance for the last time this year, that is in 2022, we are proposing that the first set of students transitioning under the new structure will transition in September 2023. So, school year 2023/2024 is identified as the first year that the new structure comes into being,” Denny disclosed at that time.
However, two months later, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the transition was still some ways away and made it clear that any education reform was at least a two to three-year process which could not be rushed.
She said the abolition of the examination was not a decision that could be made “today for tomorrow”, and indicated that whatever final reform paper was presented by the Ministry of Education would probably have at least a two-year lead-up to put things in place.
“Because what you are transitioning from is a system that has been in place for decades,” Prime Minister Mottley said as she spoke on the topic during the Down to Brass Tacks radio call-in programme.
Then last month, at the completion of the 2022 BSSEE on July 5, Deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw told reporters that the reform paper on the move towards abolishing the examination was before Prime Minister Mottley for consideration before going to Cabinet and a decision would be made “very shortly”.