Cap on CSEC must be guided by research

Former Chief Education Officer (CEO), Ed Caesar

…Ed Caesar urges broad consultations

CHAIRMAN of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the education sector and former Chief Educational Officer (CEO), Ed Caesar says any policy for the implementation of decisions that will impact education such as the cap on the number of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, must be guided by research.

Caesar’s comments come on the heels of a circular letter sent to public secondary schools, which explained that the Ministry of Education is exploring the possibility of enforcing a limit on the number of subjects being written by students at the CSEC examinations.

This limit would debar students of the senior secondary school, including the schools with sixth form, from writing no more than 10 subjects, while students from junior secondary schools would write no more than six subjects. But during an interview with Guyana Chronicle on Thursday, Caesar said, “The time has come to ensure that the decisions we make are informed by research.” However, he stressed that the CoI conducted recently did not investigate the number of CSEC subjects that students write nor was any recommendation made in this regard. “We have not dealt with that. That isn’t an area that we have interrogated,” the former CEO said.

According to Caesar, if the ministry is exploring a cap on the number of subjects, then all stakeholders, especially students, must be consulted. “We must give them [students] the opportunity to say what is behind what they desire or their willingness to write that many subjects,” the former CEO said.

When that research is done, Caesar posited that the “best informed” decision can be made and a policy reflective of this will be advanced. He stressed that an educational sector that is conducive to learning for all is imperative. Another factor to consider, according to the Chairman, is ascertaining whether those who have written many subjects have benefited adequately. He said, “The application of what students have learnt to their professional lives is one way in which this must be assessed.”

During the ongoing debate about the cap on the number of subjects, many have refuted that those who write many subjects are not involved in extra-curricular activities. To this end, Caesar related again that adequate research must be done before such an assertion can be made.

This proposal to place a cap on the number of subjects comes several months after it was first floated by the former Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine. It was reported then that Dr Roopnaraine was of the belief that students should have a more rounded education, where they can be involved in activities like sports and drama. It was also reported in the media that Dr. Roopnaraine stressed that he wanted school to be a place, of a “wider cultural experience” as opposed to concentrating on writing many subjects and having to attend numerous extra lessons.