The Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) needs to be tweaked to include continuous assessment, Government’s senior economic advisor Ambassador Clyde Mascoll has suggested.
He made the comments on Sunday at a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Christ Church East branch meeting where he also expressed the view that middle management within state-owned enterprises must be strengthened for the full potential of those agencies to be realised.
Hesitantly sharing his views on the BSSEE, known as the 11-plus or Common Entrance exam, the university lecturer suggested that the current model be changed to incorporate ongoing assessment of students.
“I understand the trauma associated with having one test to determine my future and, therefore, it is my view that the weight of that test should be reduced such that ongoing evaluation becomes part of the assessment,” he told the audience at the St Christopher Primary School.
Indicating that he was not against an exam and stressing that he was speaking in his personal capacity, Mascoll said: “My difficulty is that you cannot allow one test to determine the outcome. That ongoing evaluation should bear some weight in the allocation process. More importantly, if you prevent it [the 11-plus exam] from happening, the very next term when you are in secondary school, exams reemerge. So you say ‘don’t have it now, but then the very next year exams start back until the rest of your life’. So that is Clyde’s view.”
The Government has been toying with the idea of scrapping the 11-plus exam for several years, but no replacement for the test which determines secondary school placement has yet been announced.
Meanwhile, at the BLP meeting at which Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s Budget presentation last Tuesday was discussed, Mascoll singled out the planned introduction of the Management Trainee Initiative for the public service.
He said this was critical to fill the gap that exists between state-owned enterprises and their respective ministries.
“We need to strengthen the middle management in the public sector. So the initiative is about training management trainees in order for them to become better able to deliver the outcomes for the political class. That is the initiative that one could understand – ongoing training,” said Mascoll.
The economist said while it was good to have academic qualifications, he believed a lot more emphasis needed to be placed on competence and continued training.
“I know it is good to be qualified academically but you see the practical stuff, you see understanding how a job is done and getting it done, that is what is impressive to me not all the qualifications and then you can’t make the connection between output and input,” he said.
“Again, no disrespect to anybody, just saying what I observe is that when a fellow is doing a job and doing it to the best of his or her ability, that is what he wants . . . . There is something wrong with over-emphasising the pursuit of paper, and in this instance, it is not paper with a value on it except that it says you are certified to do ‘X’, but all education ultimately is about using it to make income,” Mascoll added. (MM)