Fri | Apr 16, 2021

Education system needs to change with the times

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:07 AM


Every year, the season for examination results dawns upon us, and in late 2020, students and parents alike were plagued by anxiety about the quality of results obtained. Much bemoaning occurred and investigations into discrepancies in marking the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination scripts.

The emphasis on the importance of these external examinations that students sit is a practice that must be changed. The prevailing perception – and quite a troubling one at that – is that these exams are ‘do or die’, with no compromise. Those students who fail are doomed to a life of mediocrity, and those who pass are on the pathway to excellence.


This perception is false. It perpetuates a system wherein tests and standardised assessments are the sole determinants of success in education. There are multiple standards that can and should be used to judge success, in the same manner that students have different talents and learning styles and express themselves differently.

Some students have a proclivity for business, while others are exceptionally athletic. Still others are talented musicians, poets, authors or motivational speakers. Not all students have a propensity to excel academically, and those who do not have this propensity should not be vilified for being ‘dunce’ – as Jamaicans are prone to do.

The educational system has stagnated, with significant changes that revolutionise the system being few and far between. While every other facet of society advances at a breakneck pace, education – one of the cornerstones, in fact – lags. Change is an absolute necessity.

It is time that Jamaica reconsiders its approach to the delivery of educational content. Students with their differing talents are to be facilitated in developing these talents. Many men and women who have built empires have done so in non-traditional fields. Academic excellence is commendable, of course, but the educational sector must appropriately deliver the requisite skills that are needed for success in the working world and in daily activities. No longer should passing tests be the most important part of a student’s educational journey.


Second-year MBBS Student

The University of the West Indies