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‘Proposal on table' regarding extra school year – Dr Wheatley

- Education Minister promises a decision on whether the controversial & rapidly implemented additional school year for public secondary schools will be kept, repealed or transformed
Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) has said Government is looking at a proposal to let the additional year of secondary school remain, but allow students who are advanced to leave early once they satisfy the graduation requirements. Photo: GIS/File
Former Minister for Education Mr Myron V. Walwyn, who was largely criticised for playing politics with the education system during his tenure, was lambasted for making what persons considered an unnecessary change when he controversially introduced the additional year into public secondary schools. Photo: VINO/File
Former Minister for Education Mr Myron V. Walwyn, who was largely criticised for playing politics with the education system during his tenure, was lambasted for making what persons considered an unnecessary change when he controversially introduced the additional year into public secondary schools. Photo: VINO/File
Currently, some Twelfth Grade students have to battle with preparing for their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations as well as their Exit Proficiency Examination (EPE) simultaneously, which can be overwhelming. Photo: VINO/File
Currently, some Twelfth Grade students have to battle with preparing for their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations as well as their Exit Proficiency Examination (EPE) simultaneously, which can be overwhelming. Photo: VINO/File
By Chassidy M. Leonard

ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- “What’s working well, we have to keep that. What’s not working so well, there are some discussions about it to see how we can improve it,” Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) stated on the 3D Show with host Doug Wheatley on ZBVI 780 AM on June 28, 2019, regarding his approach to his portfolios.

One of the subjects the Education Minister has been addressing in similar fashion is the controversial additional year imposed on public secondary schools by the former education minister, Myron V. Walwyn.

From June 19 to June 20 2019, public consultation meetings were held at the Catholic Community Centre in Virgin Gorda and at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School Courtyard, respectively, to discuss the additional school year.

While there were mixed reactions to the additional year, the majority-including students- were not too keen about keeping it. The meetings also brought out many deficiencies in the education system.

Proposal on the table

Meanwhile, the Minister on the radio show said “there is a proposal on the table” regarding the additional year.

“Right now we have a proposal on the table that we let the additional year of secondary school remain, but we allow students who are advanced to leave early once they satisfy the graduation requirements”, said Hon Natalio D. Wheatley.

He explained that these students will have to get the same amount of credits (60 credits) to graduate, but they will have to complete this in two years, as opposed to three and maintain a 3.0 GPA.

It was not stated whether the 60 credits over the two years instead of three would be content-based or based on the number of hours of class instruction.

The minister also noted that the stipulated community hours must be completed for those who would leave public secondary school early, if this neutral proposal is undertaken.

One thing is certain, very few to none are in favour of continuing to run the additional year like how it is.

Currently, some students have to battle with preparing for their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations as well as their Exit Proficiency Examination (EPE) simultaneously.

This stands to be incredibly overwhelming for some students.

Some members of the public have suggested getting rid of the EPE altogether and allow students to focus on their external examinations.

CAPE at HLSCC

Under the additional school year, advanced students were able to write only the first unit of 2 or 3 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects.

These could be completed at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.

Throughout the Caribbean, including Jamaica and Barbados, there are sixth form programmes that are run over two years. Within these two years, students complete all of the units of 2-4 (or more) CAPE subjects.

Similarly, the United Kingdom has two-year sixth form college programmes where students complete 3 or 4 A-Level subjects.

These programmes prepare students for tertiary education.

At the consultation meeting in Road Town, Dr Wheatley said the [potential] early secondary school leavers can go directly into completing the two years of their CAPE subjects at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College after they successfully achieve their graduation requirements and minimum CSEC passes at Grade 11.

Is the extra school year necessary?

In 2012, former Education Minister Mr Walwyn expressed his support for Sixth Form in secondary schools.

He stated that, “it will boost students’ efficiency in the workforce”.

He continued, “In the Virgin Islands (VI), the feedback from the businesses is that many of the students that are coming out are not ready for the world of work, especially when many leave school as early as 16 years old”.

This, he said, was why introducing the additional year into the education system was worth having a look at.

In 2014, Hon Walwyn clarified further, with a slight change in the justification, the reason the additional year was to be implemented.

“What we are doing is adding an additional year to the school lifecycle in order to give our students the time needed to complete the curriculum and hence allow them to be ready when they leave the secondary level to go on to tertiary education or the world of work”.

Many people, including some educators, believe that it caters to students who move at a slower pace.

“With the additional year, you are seeing that even our three-year students are passing subjects which they would not have done in two years”, said an Elmore Stoutt High School teacher present at the Road Town meeting.

However, the question remains whether it’s justifiable to add a year to the school system mainly to cater to students moving at a slower pace.

6 Responses to “‘Proposal on table' regarding extra school year – Dr Wheatley”

  • Jordana (04/07/2019, 12:15) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    I’ve read the proposed plan the Minister have for the extra year but this is my take on his proposal..placing a mandatory GPA in those students that desires not to do the extra year is placing a rope around their neck.. maintaining that GPA consistently is not always attainable and Mr. Minister u know this..we speak of students Mr. Minister that may be “slow” and they may not desire to do that extra year; this means that they will be forced to do the additional year.. not
    everyone has the same intellectual ability and this extra year will be burdensome for them..u just made things more difficult for the students as it relates to this extra year..in that 60 credits will be necessary to graduate after 5 years (and not do the addit. Year the Ed. System will have to ensure that these credits are attainable to make this a reality.. I do agree doing CAPE at the college level . I am not In favor of all that the Minister has proposed..
  • we the people (04/07/2019, 13:28) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    kill it as fast as you can
  • Chance (04/07/2019, 16:01) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Please leave the extra year for the children that are slow. I prayer that God's will be done in this situation
  • nonsense (04/07/2019, 18:59) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    They also have to Tourism projects while doing their CXC. These students should not have to do they add on courses in their final term at school to clash with their CXC. Somebody some where needs to exercise some common sense.
  • unknown (04/07/2019, 23:01) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
    Why do students have to do CXC Exams when they are not required for graduation?
  • Jordana (05/07/2019, 06:35) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    To the Mimister. Minister Wheatley I know you and I’ve always admired your intellect so I implore u to please review this proposal again.. CSEC should be optional not a mandatory for Graduation ..just as back in my day we had GCEs. EPE AND that 3.0 GPA need to be removed..yes we should make available all opportunities for our students to excel but NOT everyone desires to go to college or have the financial means to.. why are u putting these mandatory ropes around their
    necks..Minister Wheatley Again i implore you to seek God’s guidance and listen to His voice on this Matter..like I said I know you very well and you are a wise, intelligent and admirable young
    man..CAPE at HLSCC- I stand with you on this..


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