Mon | Jul 15, 2024

J’can enrolment woefully short in discontinued CXC subjects

Published:Thursday | May 30, 2024 | 12:09 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter
Fayval Williams, minister of education and youth, addresses a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House in St Andrew.
Fayval Williams, minister of education and youth, addresses a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House in St Andrew.

Jamaica has an enrolment shortfall of more than 90 per cent in three of the four subjects the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) says it will no longer certify, Education Minister Fayval Williams has disclosed.

Two of those subjects are seeing the high enrolment shortfall in two units each.

The council last week inadvertently announced that it would discontinue certification for agricultural science (Double Award) and mechanical engineering at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination levels as well as electrical and electronic engineering, and technology and green engineering.

Data shared by Williams during Wednesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House showed that for agricultural science, 10 schools entered 205 students. The range of entries by the schools was from one to 39. However, the minimum enrolment requirement for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) is 3,300. Jamaica’s shortfall is 93 per cent.

Electrical and electronic engineering technology (Unit 1), under the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), saw 100 entries from 15 schools. The number of students per school ranged from one to 23. The minimum enrolment requirement for CAPE is 2,375. The shortfall in this subject was 2,275, or 95 per cent.

Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technology (Unit 2) as an option registered only 10 students from two schools, a shortfall of 2,365 or 99 per cent.

Seven schools entered 41 students for green engineering (CAPE Unit 1), representing a shortfall of 2,334, or 98 per cent. For Unit 2, three schools entered 17 students, a shortfall of 2,358, or 99 per cent.

Industrial technology/mechanical, under CSEC, is the only subject that registered more than 1,000 students to sit the exam, but even this figure fell below 50 per cent of the minimum 3,300 requirement.

Ninety-six schools entered 1,383 students, which represent a 1,917, or 58 per cent, shortfall.

Despite this, principals have rejected the move by CXC, contending that the council only bears the cost of examining the subjects.

On Wednesday, Williams indicated that CXC did not consult with member countries before it announced that it would discontinue certification of the subjects.

Williams asserted that CXC was established by member countries in the Caribbean to serve them. Decisions, including the discontinuation of certification, must be discussed with education ministers before public announcements, she said.

“Having registered the concerns of principals and other concerned Jamaicans in no uncertain terms, we will be meeting with CXC along with other regional education ministers,” said Williams.

The meeting is set for June 4.

Premature release

In a statement issued yesterday, CXC acknowledged concerns based on what it said was the premature release of correspondence addressed to education ministries concerning syllabus suspension.

The body said the situation was regrettable and, understandably, would have caused anxiety among key stakeholder groups.

“In order to address the matter, CXC has scheduled a meeting with ministers of education and will provide a full update to the public, through a press release, thereafter. CXC assures our valued stakeholders that the requisite actions will be taken in the best interest of all,” a statement from the council said.

Williams said it was unanimously agreed that the subjects should be continued.

She said the ministry would engage further with principals to hear from them the support they would need

“We will increase awareness of these subject areas under the STEM and TVET agendas and the value of the subjects to our national development and in advancing career opportunities,” she said, adding that the ministry was also exploring the possibility of increasing opportunities for career counselling for students.