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Repetition Rates by Grade

Data on the repetition rate by grade for the years under review are not complete. Tables 8a and 8b provide a perspective on this phenomenon for the year 1990/1991. They indicate a repetition rate in the primary school of 4.0%

TABLE 8-A

DROPOUTS, REPETITIONS & PROMOTIONS IN COMBINED NEW PROVIDENCE GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS BY GRADE

1990 – 1991

PRIMARY LEVEL

CATEGORY

GRADES

1

2

3

4

5

6

DROPOUTS

 

1

18

6

1

4

6

REPETITIONS

 

168

159

86

39

37

21

PROMOTIONS

2,302

2,489

2,444

2,570

2,341

2,196

Source: Ministry of Education, Planning Unit

TABLE 8-B

THE NATIONAL ANALYSIS

DROPOUTS, REPETITIONS & PROMOTIONS IN GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS

1990 – 1991

LEVEL

 

DROPOUTS REPETITIONS PROMOTIONS TOTAL
PRIMARY

 

 

 

85

 

757

 

18,146

 

18,988

 

14.1%

 

0.4%

 

60.8%

 

4.0%

 

49.4%

 

95.6%

 

(100.0%)

 

ALL-AGE

 

 

30

 

276

 

3,243

 

3,549

 

5.0%

 

0.8%

 

22.1%

 

7.8%

 

8.8%

 

91.4%

 

(100.0%)

 

SECONDARY

 

 

487

 

213

 

15,371

 

16,071

 

80.9%

 

3.0%

 

17.1%

 

1.3%

 

41.8%

 

95.7%

 

(100.0%)

 

 

TOTAL

 

 

602

(100.0%)

 

1,246

(100.0%)

 

36,760

(100.0%)

 

38,608

(100.0%)

%

1.6

3.2

95.2

 

Source: Ministry of Education, Planning Unit

Survival Rate to Grade 5

(Percentage of a pupil cohort actually reaching grade 5)

The data in table 9a are sufficient to calculate the survival rate to grade 5 of those pupils entering grade 1 in 1990. According to the table, 5204 children entered grade 1 in 1990. In 1992, 5442 children were enrolled in grade 2. This yields a survival rate of 105% suggesting complete survival to grade 2.

In 1992 the number of children in grade 3 was 5278 when compared with the 5204 in the original cohort a survival rate of 101% results.

In 1993 the number of children in grade 4 equals 5298 (5298 5204) resulting in a survival rate of 101%.

In 1994 the class of grade 5 numbered 5278 yielding a survival rate of 101%.

A survival rate of more than one hundred percent may be explained by one of several situations:

TABLE 9

SURVIVAL RATE TO GRADE 5

1990 - 1997

GRADE

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Male

Female

2644

2560

4389

2665

2778

2687

2739

2674

2805

2725

2854

2878

6866

6448

2858

2799

Total

 

5204

7054

5465

5413

5530

7529

13314

5657

Male Female  

2751

2691

2794

2643

2533

2500

2698

2618

     
Total

 

 

5442

5437

5033

5216

     
Male Female    

2677

2601

2764

2638

2677

2601

     
Total

 

   

5278

5402

5278

 

     
Male Female      

2687

2611

2600

2534

     
Total

 

     

5298

5134

     
Male Female        

2677

2601

     
Total

 

       

5278

     

Source: Department of Statistics

Coefficient of Efficiency (Ideal number of pupil years needed for a pupil cohort to complete the primary cycle, expressed as a percentage of the actual number of pupil-years.)

Primary Education in The Bahamas is a six year cycle, thus the number of years it takes to produce graduates from a pupil cohort is six. Data, which will illustrate conclusively the actual number of pupil years to produce the same number of graduates, are not available. However, the policy on promotion from one grade to the next limits repetition. Additionally, for the one year when a repetition rate was calculated it yielded a 4% rate. These factors taken together suggest a Coefficient of Efficiency approaching 101%.

Further, when we look at the number of pupils graduating from the cohort of 1990 in final grade 6 after 6 years of schooling we have a coefficient of efficiency that exceeds 101%.

Section 4: Learning Achievement and Outcomes

One concern that continues to plague the country, despite its long tradition of universal primary education, is the lack of correlation between the investment in education and the returns derived therefrom. Successive administrations have lamented this situation and each has sought to understand the problem and endeavoured to discover practical solutions. Despite these efforts, the quality of performance and academic achievement in particular, continue to exercise the minds of relevant technocrats.

Mastery of Learning Competencies

( Percentage of Pupils having reached at least grade 4 who master a set of nationally defined basic learning competencies)

While as Table 10-A shows the majority of students enrolled in public primary schools for the academic years 1996/1997 and 1997/1998 were performing at least on level, the results of: Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT); The Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC); The General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE); the incidence of students who fail to read at grade level (albeit declining); the College of The Bahamas Placement Tests, as well as the enrolment pattern in continuing education programmes, suggest that the level of curriculum mastery exhibited by many graduates of the school system falls below acceptable level. In a country having instituted compulsory primary schooling for more than a century, such performance is unacceptable.

Even more disturbing, from the perspective of the Department of Education, this underachievement is more apparent among the male student population and tends to be more of a challenge among the public school population. Children enrolled in private schools continue to outperform those enrolled in public schools on national standardised examinations.

TABLE 10-A

A COMPARATIVE PERFORMANCE OF PRIMARY STUDENTS

COMPETENCE IN NEW PROVIDENCE

GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS

1996/1997 AND 1997/1998

YEAR

 

ABOVE LEVEL ON LEVEL BELOW LEVEL
1996/1997

 

5.4% 68.9% 25.7%
1997/1998

 

2.9% 69.5% 27.6%

Source: The Ministry of Education, Planning Unit

Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT)

The standard measure of learning achievement used at the level of the primary school is the Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT). Introduced in 1984, as a diagnostic tool, at the present time the GLAT is written by all students in public and private schools in grades 3 and 6. The GLAT seeks to assess learning achievement in respect to mastery of the prescribed curricula as determined through a series of examinations. Its purpose is to determine students’ strengths and weaknesses in an effort to develop individualised programmes particularly for under achieving children.

The test at grade 3 is divided into two components: writing and the assessment mode.

The results of the writing test for the year 1996 indicate the following:

The results for grade 6 were less encouraging. They revealed:

These findings which characterise the weaknesses that were being displayed by primary school students in the critical areas of Language Arts and Mathematics encouraged the authorities to intensify their efforts in finding corrective measures. Two measures undertaken to impact these deficiencies were the establishment of Language Enrichment Centres and the introduction of 3Rs + programme.

Language Enrichment Centres

The Language Enrichment centres set out to achieve the following:

Since 1993 Language Enrichment Centres have been established in seven schools located in both rural and urban areas: one in New Providence (urban), three in Grand Bahama (urban/rural) and three in Andros (rural).

3Rs +

The Teaching/learning 3Rs + programme was introduced to the system in 1994. Its aim is to improve the teaching performance of teachers and thereby the achievement of students of grades k – 3 in the core subjects using an integrated approach. The realisation of this objective is enabled by the conduct of training workshops focusing on:

Facilities available at this Centre include:

The five existing centres are to be found in New Providence (urban), Cat Island (rural), Andros (rural), Eleuthera (rural) and Abaco (rural).

Since the implementation of these strategies there has been a notable

improvement in GLAT scores in the areas of Language Arts and Mathematics. As

Literacy rate of 15 –24 Year Olds

Data on literacy levels which would help to isolate the number of persons aged 15 to 24 who can both read and write with understanding a short simple statement on their everyday life, are not readily available. Data on literacy levels relate to the entire country and have not been segregated according to age groupings. Performance on the BJC and BGCSE, may, however, give some indication relative to the levels of literacy among 15 – 24 year olds. Performance in these examinations assume a grasp of the basic skills of literacy.

Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC)

The examinations, which lead to the award of the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC), are written in grade nine at the end of the junior secondary school. These examinations are designed to measure mastery of the curriculum in the core subjects of English Language, Mathematics, Religious Education, General Science, English Literature, and Social Studies. Policy mandates all children enrolled in the lower secondary school to follow this core curriculum and to be examined therein.

According to the Ministry of Education, since the reintroduction of the BJC in 1995, a majority of students have been achieving passes in at least five of the subjects written.

Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE)

The Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) is designed to assess mastery of the secondary school curriculum. It is generally written at the end of the secondary school in grade twelve and is a major criterion for entry into tertiary education institutions. In order to matriculate at The College of The Bahamas a public institution and the only tertiary education institution of its type in the country, it is necessary to have obtained passes in at least five subjects at a grade c level, including English and mathematics

Since its introduction in 1993, a steady increase in performance among public school students has been observed. Table 10a gives an indication of performance on this examination for the years 1994/1995, 1995/1996 and 1996/1997.

In the context of performance on these examinations, and the practice followed by primary schools which disallows children who are not reading at least at the 4th grade level, from leaving the primary schools it can be concluded that the majority of 15 – 24 year olds are able to read and write with understanding a short simple statement on their everyday life.

Section 5: Adult Literacy

Insufficient attention to the weaknesses displayed by some students in both primary and secondary schools in earlier times, has given rise to an increasing number of adults whose literacy and numeracy skills inhibit the maximisation of their potential and ultimately limit their opportunities for social and economic mobility. In the absence of reliable data generated by a scientific investigation, the pervasiveness of this problem is indicated by the increasing interest in adult literacy and continuing education programmes. This growing interest confirms the view that the quality of functional literacy among some adults is not satisfactory.

The approach taken to confront this perceived problem relied heavily on the development of non-formal programmes. One of the most popular of these programmes is that called Let’s Read Bahamas which uses the Laubach Technique of Each one Teach One. It is a government sponsored initiative, which is managed by the Ministry of Education. Its design is such that the tutoring is facilitated in environments in which the participants are most comfortable: the work place, religious centres or even homes. Since its inception in 1994 more than 100 participants, most of whom were women, across The Bahamas have been exposed to literacy enhancing experiences. As well, the project has facilitated the training of more than 100 tutors, all volunteers, with the result that tutors are to be found in all islands of the archipelago.

Project Read an effort of the local Rotary Clubs of The Bahamas has been in existence for most of the present decade. Like Let’s Read Bahamas it too uses the Laubach technique and has assisted more than 100 adults. An examination of its records reveals that the majority of persons seeking help are female. This should not be taken to mean that the Literacy Gender parity index favours males. A more likely explanation is that women are more aggressive about improving their conditions.

The College of The Bahamas, through its Centre for Continuing Education and Extension Services, offers two programmes designed to improve the level of adult literacy: The Basic Workers programme and the Over Forty programme are means by which persons who did not have adequate opportunity for secondary schooling can upgrade their academic skills. The success of these programmes is due in no small measure to the collaborative effort between the College of The Bahamas and the Department of Public Personnel.

The concerns expressed about literacy levels seems paradoxical when Table 11-A is viewed. Table 11a reveals that the rate of literacy among Bahamians has been increasing steadily between 1953 and the present from 85% to upwards of 90%. This table confirms that most Bahamians are able to read and write with understanding a short simple statement on their everyday lives. What is desirable, however, in the twenty first century, is a population whose level of comprehension enables them to operate above the literal level.

TABLE 11-A

THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS

LITERACY RATES (%)

N0.

YEAR

LITERACY RATE

1

1953

85.1%

2

1960

89.7%

3

1963

89.7%

4

1970

91.2%

5

1980

91.6%

6

1981

93.0%

7

1990

97.0%

*APPROXIMATE **ESTIMATED

NOTE: As at March 1996 UNICEF (UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN’S FUND)

gave the following statistics for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

1. Bahamas Adult Literacy Rate = 98.2% (1995)

2. Bahamas Adult Literacy Rate (MALE) = 98.5% (1995)

3. Bahamas Adult Literacy Rate (FEMALE) = 98.0% (1995)

Literacy Gender Parity Index: ratio of Female to Male literacy rates

Table 11-A above shows that the difference in literacy attainment between males and females is negligible. This outcome is as a result of regulations and policies governing education. In a country where every child irrespective of gender is compelled to be enrolled in some form of structured education, the absence of differences is to be expected. If differences existed, the expectation would be that the under-attainment would relate to males. Such underachievement would not be the outcome of the application of a discriminatory approach to the provision of learning opportunities. Rather, it would be the result of the reluctance of the male population to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided at all levels of the system. A situation that may be the effect of the system’s failure to acknowledge and respond to gender differences in learning style.

Section 6: Training in Essential Skills

The social and economic transformation occurring in The Bahamas beginning during the middle of the present century, makes it clear that the school, on its own, cannot provide children with all the skills, knowledge and attitudes they would need to survive in a world that is becoming more and more technologically driven. Indeed, it was a finding of the Youth Consultative Commission (1994) that the relevant preparation of youth for life in the twenty first century would require the engagement of a team comprising of several government agencies and many non-governmental agencies.

During the decade of the nineties, therefore, the Ministry of Youth and Culture spearheaded a number of training initiatives, many of which have become institutionalised. Among the programmes being offered are:


YEAST – a programme for young men having difficulty with the school curriculum, or high school dropouts. YEAST is designed to help young men build self - esteem and develop technical skills.

The Ministry of Education has revised a number of its curricula having content relative to this area. Included in this category are the Family Life and Health Education Curriculum, the Social Studies Curriculum and the Business Curriculum. A more complete listing of programmes is found in the following pages.

Moreover, the Government has expressed its desire to:

v Expand technical/vocational course offerings to equip young adults with skills for employment or as self-employed entrepreneurs;

v Extend government funding to assist technical and vocational education graduates to acquire equipment for self-employment in their fields of expertise;

v Continue the expansion of school and community libraries and the construction of community centres in densely populated areas, to provide needed space for young children and young adults to study, to organist community activities and to participate in generally health free-time activities;

v Formulate youth development programmes that are consistent with the national goals for youth;

v Encourage the training of young people so that they continue to develop a strong sense of ethical behaviour;

v Establish training programmes that will equip young people with skills and trades that will enable them to earn a living.

Facilitate, in co-operation with financial institution, financing for your entrepreneurs and provide technical and administrative support for them

While the existing programmes do not generally (except in specific cases) discriminate along gender lines it is recognised that their availability is not as widespread as desirable. For example, they tend to be concentrated in the urban areas of New Providence and to a lesser extent, the Freeport area in Grand Bahama.

The impact of these initiatives is evidenced in the behaviour of the target population. More and more young people, for example, are choosing to become self-employed. Further, the incidence of former gang members turning away from gang activity and engaging in self- employment is increasing.

Section 7: Education for Better Living

Despite the provision of universal primary and secondary education a considerable number of persons leave school with minimal qualifications, having failed to master important sectors of the curriculum. Added to this phenomenon, the process of economic development has resulted in the deterioration of traditional values and accepted standards of behaviour. As a consequence, the scourge of teenage pregnancy, substance abuse HIV/AIDS among young people between the ages of 14 –24 continues to haunt the society. The need to assist persons in this category precipitated the development of continuing and adult education programmes designed to impact the attitude and social outlook of participants.

These programmes which are proliferating fall broadly into the following categories:

v Academic upgrading;

v Retraining;

v Skills training;

v Personal and professional development;

v Exposure to general interest concerns;

In order to enhance programme effectiveness and efficiency and to reach the breadth of interested persons, the assistance of the broadcast and print media is sought. In The Bahamas, much use is made of the Electronic and Print Media for educational purposes. The Ministry of Education through its Learning Resources Services sponsors a daily programme on radio called A Time For Education. This programme targets teachers and students and has as its objectives the enhancement of teacher skills as well as reinforcing curriculum objectives.

The Ministry of Youth sponsors a television programme called Teens with an Attitude. This live call-in show allows teenagers to display their talents and express their ideas, suggestions, feelings and opinions on issues of national interest.

Both the television and the radio are used for public service announcements. One public radio station sets aside a portion of its airtime three times a day for this purpose. Many of the other stations have a similar provision but approaches it in different ways.

The broadcast and print media are also used for social mobilisation campaigns. Some of the more recent campaigns included the vaccination for MMR and the dangers of unprotected sex.

Government Departments, which use the media for basic education, include, The Ministry of Education, The Ministry of Youth, The College of The Bahamas, The Ministry of Health and the Ministry Social Development.

To the extent that the public facilities are used, programmes would be subjected to the extant regulations.

The Government has articulated its determination to link all schools to cable television and use it as a means to deliver education programmes using distance education methodologies. This is particularly intended to reach isolated, small Family Island schools.

                                                                                                                           END


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