July 26, 2021

CSEC Debate

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Ronald-Thwaites--lead-storyJermaine Francis, Staff Reporter From Jamaican Gleaner

A debate has emerged over the large number of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects some students are being allowed to sit at the secondary level.

There are concerns that students are being unfairly asked to pursue a barrage of subjects that are of little value to them beyond providing bragging rights for themselves and their schools.

Speaking at the recent National Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) awards ceremony put on by the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites questioned the necessity of students taking a large number of subjects.

He argued that more focus should be placed on the quality of subjects being tackled.

However, Marcia McCausland-Wilson, immediate past president of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, told The Gleaner that students should be allowed to do as many subjects as they can handle.

“It’s really up to the parents and the students and, to a lesser extent, the teachers. The parents are the ones who are paying the fees and the parents and students would decide whether or not the student can handle that,” she argued.

She said students pursuing, sometimes more than 12 subjects, are not necessarily smarter than those sitting the eight required in many schools. But they should not be denied the right to do as many as they want, she said.

In an opinion column to appear in tomorrow’s Sunday Gleaner, veteran educator Esther Tyson supported Thwaites in querying, “Of what value [are] these excessive subjects?”

She expressed that she was perturbed by, “the trend in secondary schools in the Caribbean to have students doing more and more subjects at the CXC-CSEC level, seemingly in an attempt to outdo other schools or students”.


Tyson questioned if this focus on students completing several subjects was not detracting from the necessary extra-curricular activities that students are encouraged to participate in, to be well rounded.

But Millard McLean, principal of the deCarteret College which had the top student in the island for 2013, Veronna Hanley who passed 13 subjects in one sitting of the regional exams, said students should be allowed to pursue their full potential.

He is of the view that there are many students across the country who are not being allowed to achieve all they can because of the concern that they could be overwhelmed by schoolwork.

“Every student has the capacity to do better than what they are doing right now. In Jamaica, currently, most students are not being given the chance to realise their full potential,” McLean stated.

He said what should be of concern is that all students at the CSEC level complete the core subjects, which should include math, English, a foreign language, agriculture science, and a practical subject.

PHOTO: Ronald Thwaites

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