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G’da takes a step closer to free universal secondary education

Education Minister Senator David Andrew – made the announcement at a sitting of the Upper House of Parliament

Grenada is moving to free secondary education for all primary school-aged children from September, according to Education Minister Senator David Andrew.

Speaking during Tuesday’s sitting of the Senate, the Education Minister announced that beginning this September all students who sat the CPEA exams earlier in the year will be guaranteed a place in a Secondary school “as we move towards universal secondary education.”

According to the senior minister in the one-year old National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, the ministry is fully aware that there will be a need to give support to those students “who probably found themselves at the lowest end.”

He said that officials in the Ministry of Education have already been approached “to begin putting together systems of support for those students.”

He noted that in the past the ministry had Literacy Co-ordinators in place but many of them are still in the system although not deployed in the places where they are supposed to be in order to provide that particular function at the school level.

“We are going to do an audit of that as well but we are going to engage several other avenues to ensure that both in the summer that (we) prepare them to go into Secondary school and thereafter we provide support for them but every child will be placed in a Secondary school in 2023 September,” he said.

Minister Andrew disclosed that unlike previous years, the Ministry of Education will no longer release the positions of students who sat the CPEA exams.

“The ministry recognizes that we have erred in how we have been releasing the CPEA results over the years. We have been releasing publicly scores (and) student ranks,” he told the sitting of the Upper House of Parliament.

This, he said was done primarily to validate positions and high scores of students and in the process resulted in schools being felt pressured “into preparing students rigidly for particular examinations to make sure that a certain number of their students get features in the top subjects.”

He stated that the ministry has been encouraging this to some extent but recognizes that the publication of the scores of students are in fact a violation of the Education act.

He said that Section 161, subsection 5 states “the minister may publish the results of an assessment together with a commentary on them by the Chief Education Officer but not so as to identify individual students or teachers.”

In addition, he pointed to Section 23 subsection 27 which indicates that “a student’s record is privileged information for the use of the institution and the Ministry of Education officials in the performance of their functions and is not available to any other person or institution without the written permission of the parent or if the student is 18 years of age or older.”

“In other words we have violated the rights of the students by mass publicising scores,” he remarked.

Minister Andrew stressed that it is not a matter of government not willing to celebrate success but there is the emotional fall-outs for persons who get compared with other students, as well as complaints from persons about “the physcho emotional discomfort that is faced when it comes to that period (the release of the results).”

“I don’t want anybody to run away with the notion that this is an attempt to throw cold water on celebrating success but we ought to comply and function within the ambits of the Education act as a Ministry of Education,” he told the Senate sitting.

According to Minister Andrew the list with the 2023 CPEA students will be published only in alphabetical order.

“There will be no scores and ranks published from the Ministry of Education because we are going to operate in keeping with the provisions of the Education act,” he said.

The Minister disclosed that the schools will receive scores for the students that they sent up and ranking in order “to do their own individual assessment (and) monitoring to determine where they’ve gone wrong, and what are the areas and avenues for upgrade, set benchmarks and do the necessaries in keeping with the act.”

He said that the individual students will receive a performance card from the Caribbean Examination Council that gives details of their performances in each of the tested areas, their strengths, areas of weakness and this will be available to them and their parents from the school.

The minister indicated that contrary to report circulating on the island the CPEA results have not arrived in the country as yet but expect it very soon as promised by the regional exam body.

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