EYEWITNESS: More on education…

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…with CXC results out

Just yesterday, your Eyewitness waxed – if not lyrical, certainly prolixly – on the premises of our elementary education set-up, which is now supposedly “universal”. While the prompt from the Ministry about deferring assessments had also included Grade 9 – the old Form 3 – the high school nexus was passed over.

So, with the results of CAPE and CSEC now out – after the delays occasioned by contested CXC grading – yours truly might as well extend his train of thought on education in the secondary schools and university.

If we cast our eyes back on the Common Entrance – which we picked up from the British – we would notice that we’ve missed the entire point of their innovation, in 1948, from the original model in 1904. The exams now act as a sort of IQ test, signalling which students might be more suited for specific types of education in a new “Tripartite System”.

The high flyers would continue with academic pursuits in their elite grammar schools, and the others would be sent to less competitive “secondary modern schools”, or (for those considered below par) to trade-oriented technical schools. In Guyana, we retained the elite grammar schools – Queen’s and Bishops’ – for the top 1%, and left the others to flounder in the other secondary schools; and, much later, a couple of technical/agri-schools. The point to note is that we inherited the British snobbery about “academics”, and scoffed (if not scorned) technical and agricultural education. It wasn’t even considered EDUCATION!

Well, from the results just out, while Queen’s copped the top spots in both CAPE AND CSEC, other Government schools and one private school – SVN – dominated the top ten at CSEC. The latter’s performance was spectacular, grabbing 5 of the top spots, yet not having access to students with the top marks at NGSA like Queen’s and Bishops’ have. What this proves is that if the Government were to follow up on the promise made in 2013: to abolish the elitist approach and bring all secondary schools up to the standards of the elite schools, they can produce just as good results.

But quo basis? The results raise a more fundamental question: what exactly are we gearing our education system to produce? Some students used to sit for humongous numbers of subjects because they wanted to qualify for the handful of scholarships. But with the Government now offering 20,000 scholarships across the board – in all kinds of subjects – haven’t we levelled the field for higher education?

Maybe. But the old British condescension on technical and agricultural subjects stubbornly remains a barrier to our sustained progress.

We have to eradicate that to avoid the dreaded “Dutch Disease”! Let the techies rule!=

…for progress

Our attitude on what constitutes “good education” isn’t just about what’s imparted in schools. There’s also the undisciplined attitude we’ve developed in our everyday lives. In this we’re certainly “one people, one nation – and doomed to – one destiny”. Which is, to remain mediocre. Your Eyewitness passed by City Hall today, and he couldn’t believe the state of decrepitude into which it has been allowed to fall.

And the operative word is “allowed”. After all, weren’t there officials – elected by the people of our fair city -to take care of its business. Isn’t taking care of the building you work in part of their duties? What sort of people would allow their workplace to literally become a pigsty? Well, the same sort of people who’d throw their garbage on the streets, and even in front of their neighbours’ yards. Or the same sort of people who refuse to wear masks in public, or avoid crowds while COVID spikes. Yet, as soon as they arrive in foreign, they straighten up.

A deep self-contempt streak is revealed!

…about corruption

After 28 years of PNC corruption, the incoming PPP grappled with its structural bases for 23 years. But, in 5 years, the PNC returned corruption to its status quo ante.

The PPP must make the GUYOIL fiasco a cautionary tale.