Minister of Education the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd in his Contribution to the 2017/2018 Budget Debate expressed displeasure with the state of the education system in The Bahamas at all levels ranging from preschool to high school.

    Minister Lloyd stressed that to fix these problems, we must first admit we have them.

    Noting persistent ill-preparedness of Bahamian students to compete in the 21st century, the Minister covered a number of areas the government will fund in order to create a more technology and knowledge-based learning environment to equip students to successfully contribute to the country’s growing economy.

    At all levels of education, the Minister of Education proposed many improvements to the education system such as teachers’ training, apprenticeship programmes, special education, and plans to improve the overall curriculum at all levels of education so that education in the Bahamas is at world standard.

    He described the 2016 results for the 24th sitting of Grade Level Assessment Tests (GLAT), Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE).

    In 2016, there were 5,428 third grade students across The Bahamas who sat the GLAT examination, in English and Mathematics. Results were 63.48 percent of the grades awarded were A-D passes, whereas 36.5 percent of the grades awarded were between the E-U range.

    At the sixth grade level, 5,053 candidates registered to sit examinations for four subjects offered (English, Math, Science and Social Studies). Results were 59.56 percent of the overall candidates who wrote the examination received A-D grades, whereas a startling 40 percent were awarded failing grades between E-U.

    At both the third and sixth grade levels, female students continue to outperform male students, achieving higher percentages at the upper grade levels while our young men continue to achieve higher percentages at the lower grade levels.

    In 2016, approximately 11,703 candidates from a total of 120 centers registered to sit the BJC examinations for 11 subjects offered. Candidates came from 68 independent centres and 52 public schools. Of the grades awarded, 64.3 percent were in the A-D range, which indicates that 35.7 percent of the grades awarded were in the E-U or failing range. In 2016, a mere 2,240 candidates, just 20 percent achieved a minimum grade of ‘D’ or higher in five or more BJC subjects.

    In 2016, there were 6,450 candidates registered from a total of 104 centres to sit the BGCSE examination. Sixty-five centres were independent while, 39 were public. Although the total number of subjects offered is 27, the average number of subjects written per candidate in 2016 was four, and in 2015 it was five.

    English Language, biology, mathematics and religious studies have remained the subjects of choice for the vast majority of candidates, for the past few years; note however, he said, no subject has a 100 percent subscription rate.

    In 2016, a total of 1,459 or a mere 23 percent of the candidates, obtained a minimum grade of ‘D’ in at least 5 subjects. A total of 903 candidates received at least ‘C’ in five or more subjects in 2016. In other words, he said, 14 percent of the candidates who registered to take the BGCSE examination received at least a 'C' in five or more subjects.

    The Minister announced a graduation rate of 50 percent in 2015, which was unchanged in 2016.

    However, under previous Minister of Education, Jerome K Fitzgerald, the standardized “Bahamas High School Diploma” came to fruition in 2017, which Minister Lloyd had the honor of recently presenting to students. Its concept had begun its development in 1998 and is now the standard for all high schools in the Bahamas. The criteria are:

    1. Four BJC Passes including Math and English with a ‘C’; grade’

    2. A 2.0 Cumulative average

    3. 90% punctuality and attendance rate

    4. 30 hours of voluntary community service

    5. 20 hours of job-readiness training, especially in soft skills.

    The Minister remarked that this would hopefully boost the graduation rate to the projected 85 percent by 2030, even faster than projected. This will then show accountability for the $300 million that has been invested in education.

    The importance of proper preschool education was also a key concern of the Minister of Education: he pointed out that there are insufficient preschools in the public system and that more than half of children do not attend preschool prior to first grade. To date, there are only 550 registered preschools in the country, which strains the need for better funding and technology. Minister Lloyd announced a $2 million budget for tablets for every preschool student in two New Providence schools as a pilot programme, which will be monitored and evaluated over the course of two years.

    Improvement of the curriculum from preschool to high school was also discussed as the Minister of Education allocates $200,000.

    The initial phase of curriculum improvement will take two years and will focus on the core components Bahamian history, civics and culture, multi-lingual and numeracy competence, Information Technology competence, entrepreneurship and personal financial planning. Continuous training for teachers was also mandated to ensure the success and sustainability of these investments. Also mentioned were advancements in special education, The National Apprenticeship Scheme, Science and Technology, The Bahamas Learning Channel, Same-Sex Schooling and of course overall infrastructure.

    With respect to tertiary education, Minister Lloyd mentioned improvement and supportiveness for staff, procedures and infrastructure of The University of the Bahamas (UB) and The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).

    Scholarships are being increased for students to attend UB and BTVI, which will, again, assist students to contribute to the country’s growing economy.

    In conclusion, the Minister of Education commended all teaching and administrative staff, from preschool to tertiary, and students who take full advantage of their educational rights and privileges.


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