17th August 2012, St. John’s Antigua- Why are Antigua & Barbuda’s primary and college students excelling in math, while secondary students are faltering?
This is the “dilemma” education stakeholders were attempting to answer and remedy when the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) results were released yesterday at the National Archives building.
“We have to find some answers as to why this is happening…This is a question and issue that we have to grapple with and solve, “ Education Minister Dr Jacqui Quinn Leandro said.
In the May/June sitting of the CSEC, there was a 27 per cent pass rate in math – a two per cent slippage from last year. According to Dr Leandro, regionally there has been a three per cent drop in mathematics.
The minster went on to say that the phenomena is “of grave concern to the education ministry, saying, “While individual schools performed exceptionally well in math, the overall country performance leaves much to be desired.”
However, education officer in charge of mathematics, Caron Weston, said that the poor academic preparation of teachers is one major reason why the students have been faltering in mathematics.
Revealing that a “needs assessment” found that, out of the 75 government secondary teachers instructing math, only three hold a math degree.
“We need to make certain that we have quality teachers teaching the subject and that is where it is going to start,” Weston said.
She noted that additional teacher training had already begun, starting with a recent workshop held this summer.
Along with teacher retraining, the education officer said that a “community response” is necessary. She appealed to volunteers to contribute tutoring three days a week for two hours.
“We are asking for a giving back. We want volunteers to come in and help us,” Weston said.
She added, “The community is not just in the school or in the boundaries of the schools walls, but we are actually saying to the community at large, this is a societal problem and we are asking for help.”
The volunteers are currently being compiled and they will be presented to the nation in September.
In response to the phenomena of college age students excelling in math while secondary students do not, the officer noted that it was to be expected, as the students were the “cream of the crop”, having already passed the math CXC in secondary school.
Weston also identified persons who would become “blue collar workers” as the student subsection that the country is seeing a “massive failure” in mathematics.
However, she declared, “We are not going to lose them, we are going after them. We need them. They are the background of what is going to be the economic development and progress of our island. We are not going to lose them. We are going after them.”