By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] –Education Minister, Priya Manickchand believes that if the controversial automatic promotion policy – No Child Left Behind –had any impact on secondary school students it was definitely a positive one.
Manickchand, during a press conference this morning, pointed to reduction in school drop outs during the period the policy was active and also the results at this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations which Manickchand said was the best.
“If it had an impact it was a positive impact because these are some of the best results we have ever seen,” the Education Minister said; adding that “take for example mathematics, this is the highest Guyana has ever seen in the history of the country.”
She said these students were the beneficiaries or victims of the policy, depends on how you look at it, having been in Form Two when it was introduced.
Only last month, Chief Education Officer Olatto Sam announced the Ministry’s intention to restore the automatic promotion policy for secondary schools, just one year after scrapping it.
According to the CEO, the Ministry has chosen to continue with the policy because of the dull performance of many students in secondary schools across the country.
Today, Manickchand said it remains under intense consideration; pointing out that when it was first introduced it was criticized then when it was scrapped the Ministry was again criticized.
“As a nation we need to decide what it is we want and what is in best interest of students… over the next six weeks we will decide on that through extensive consultation,” she added.
She explained that during the policy period the school system was able to retain 2000 more students thereby reducing the dropout rate.
“It had a direct impact on the number of students that stayed in the school system… we had the least amounts of drop outs in the last two years,” the Minister further explained.
Without the policy students are required to pass Math and English and all other subjects with over 50% before they are allowed into the next grade.
Manickchand believes too that some students may still be in the mindset or have the expectation that they will be automatically promoted and begged teachers to ensure students understand the requirements should the policy be removed permanently.
She said too that the Ministry is fully aware students are prevented from going to the next grade a consequence is that classrooms will become overcrowded; reiterating the need for extensive consultations and a final decision on the policy.