St. John’s Antigua- The Ministry of Education wants double digits growth in the CXC pass rate in Mathematics by 2012, a target that Education Minister Dr Jacqui Quinn Leandro has described as a ”herculean task.”
The 45 per cent across-the-board pass rate is expected at all schools, the minister said. This follows the 29 per cent pass rate that Antigua & Barbuda achieved this year, which is six per cent less than the regional average.
In making the announcement during yesterday’s House of Representative sitting, the Quinn Leandro said there is “no quick fix or magic formula” for the country’s Maths problems.
“Now we know we are climbing from 29 per cent to 45 per cent and we know that we have never achieved 50 per cent in Antigua & Barbuda. It is a herculean task but we are working towards implementing some of these strategies so we can move the percentage across the board to 45 per cent,” she said.
The minister was responding to questions posed by St Mary’s North MP Molwyn Joseph about the education system.
While noting that an apparent phobia towards Maths is mirrored throughout the region, she said other measures are being taken to improve performance in the subject including workshops for teachers, closer monitoring of teachers in their classrooms, and more mental arithmetic for students.
In the area of English Language, she said the results at the primary school level have been reasonable with the overall pass rate remaining above 56 per cent in the past eleven years.
She noted that students are encouraged to used Standard English on the school compound, and national assessments are conducted for Grade 2 and 4 students among other measures aimed at improving their performance.
In 2014, the minister said, it will be compulsory for all students to sit English Literature, in addition to English Language and Maths.
Speaking on another education issue, Dr Quinn Leandro said it is not possible to standardise school hours at the Bendals Primary at this time, despite declined activity at the nearby quarry.
The school has been operating between 8 am and 1 pm for more than 14 years to facilitate the quarry’s operation following complaints about foul, unbearable fumes and excessive dust.
And according to the minister, any decision to adjust the hours to 9 am to 3 pm as exists in other public schools will have to be done in the interest of all parties.
“The levels of production at the quarry have reduced considerably because production is based on demand, for crushed stones and for asphalt. But this does not mean that the students would still not be affected were we to change back the school hours and simultaneously demand would have increased as was the case in the run up to Cricket World Cup” she explained.
“I certainly do not envisage the Ministry of Education having any qualms whatsoever in meeting with the stakeholders-the Public Works Department, the Antigua & Barbuda Union of Teachers to discuss this, but we will do it in our timelines, not those set by the member for St Mary’s North. In fact, we will invite you as the Parliamentary Representative to be a part of those discussions.”
The Member of Parliament for St Mary’s North has charged that students are losing up to 40 per cent of contact time in school.
However, the Minister said students lose an average of 30 minutes per day when compared to other schools, amounting to 10 and a half percent.