Acting Director of Education Doristeen Etinoff said, “Everything will have to continue as is. There can not be a change until the whole universal education is put in place.”
In 2011, Minister of Education Dr Jaqui Quinn Leandro announced the phasing out of Common Entrance and the introduction of universal secondary education by September 2013. However, it appears that it will not become reality until the following school year in 2014.
On Thursday, the acting director said in reference to the start date, “We start at the beginning of the school year (September) so that we can get the profile of the student at least for that year.”
The minister of education also announced that the best performing students leaving primary school will no longer have the option to choose which government secondary school they wish to attend from 2013.
Currently, the 100 students with the top score in the Common Entrance exam are given the option of selecting their preferred secondary school, which the minister said is most often Antigua Grammar School, Antigua Girls High School or Princess Margaret School.
The announcement that students will be placed in the school nearest in proximity to where they reside has been met with mixed reaction from the public.
Meanwhile, President of the Antigua & Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) Vernest Mack said to her knowledge Grade Six teachers continue to prepare their students for the Common Entrance slated for June, although the schools have not received any word from the Ministry.
“As far as I know nothing will be changing. Students will still be trying to be in the top 100 so that they can select the school of their choice. If you are not in the top 100 you are zoned, meaning you are put in the school that is closest to where you live,” Mack said.
Mack added that aspects of universal secondary education currently exist, as all students, even those who fail to make a passing grade during the common entrance, are placed in secondary schools.
Etinoff indicated that a national assessment would be held with Grade Six students in September. However, she said, the final details of how the national assessment will be conducted is being finalised before it will be presented to teachers and principals.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)