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Discussion of Data and Policy that Relates to the Data: cont

Policy

As was stated in number one above, a child is eligible for schooling when he/she has attained the age of 4 years 9 months by September. Education is compulsory from this age to 16 (Section 13, Education Law 1983). It is the duty of a parent to ensure that any child who is a legal resident of the Cayman Islands between four years nine months and sixteen years old is enrolled in school and attends regularly.

Students’ attendance is closely monitored by school staff and is enhanced by the efforts of the Truant Officer who is based at the Education Department.

Legal action can be- and in a few cases has been - taken against parents of students who are consistently truant in their attendance at school.

Automatic Promotion from Primary School

Since education is compulsory for all children between the age of 4 years 9 months and 16 years, all legally resident children are eligible for schooling within the public or private school systems.

Students may be required to repeat year 2, or year 6 of primary school. Students must demonstrate through standardized tests that they have completed the body of work required in the infant and junior divisions before transferring to the junior high school in year 7. Students who complete Year 9 at the George Hicks High School are automatically transferred to the senior high school, the John Gray High School. At both secondary schools, students are streamed according to ability.

On Cayman Brac, the secondary school encompasses Years 7 to 12 with the same comprehensive philosophy practiced there.

Indicator 5 and 6 - Gross and Net Enrolment ratios in Primary Education

Policy

One of the recommendations of the Education Review at the beginning of the decade, commissioned by the Cayman Islands Government and funded in part by the UNDP, was the limiting of the size of schools’ population. The five-year Development Plan, which incorporated the many and varying recommendations from this review, stipulated school populations for the primary sector not to exceed 350. In the subsequent Strategic Plan

(Education Development Plan,1996-99), which has been the major reform initiative during the second half of the decade, cognizance has been taken of this desired ceiling of 350 students when matters such as facilities, resources and class management have come to the forefront.

While every effort will be made to keep student population within the 350 range and plan future school buildings and facilities accordingly, there are factors that are outside the control of stakeholders. Demographic trends, movement of people from the more crowded George Town was to what might be termed the suburbs, immigration, the school aged dependents of immigrant workers, all impacted on the school population within the space of an academic year.

This therefore affects subsequently, if not negates completely any policy or intention to limit school population size to the 350 range. Provisions for future expansion are built into the design of new school buildings.

Indicator 7 and 8

Public Current Expenditure in Primary Education

Issues

  1. There is Data available to show how Government funding for education is expanding at the primary level. Up to now, primary and secondary schools have prepared an annual budget based on their needs in terms of programmes, staffing facilities upgrade, maintenance, consumable materials, text books, other resources etc. This is then costed and if approved by the Budget and Management Unit and the Executive Council, is then brought to the Legislature, along with other estimates from the Ministry and Education Department, as the expenditure in education for a particular year. (See Table B for recurrent expenditure in Special and Tertiary Education)
  2. As has been stated earlier, the government provides financial assistance to certain parents of pre-school children. During 1993 - 94 academic year, Government also met the cost of the salaries of a trained teacher for each of three pre-schools. This was to provide assistance to these centres to meet the requirements as stipulated in the Pre-school Guidelines. Prior to 1993 these children would have been enrolled in the Reception programme in the primary schools. These costs are clearly public expenditure in ECCE provisions.

  3. Certain other Ministries’ programmes impact on education and will have implications for costs to these Ministries. The Ministry of Health through the Health Services and the Department of Social Services provide services directly through the schools and directly to families, which impact on education.

Public health currently operates clinics at the two secondary schools in Grand Cayman. A nurse is stationed on site at one primary school at present. Everything is in place to commence this service in a second primary school when the next academic year begins at the end of August 1999. Additionally, dental health services are provided on site at these schools. These schools without facilities to accommodate the dental service are provided for through the Mobile Dental Unit. This unit’s purchase was funded by the Rotary Club, but is staffed and the service provided by the Health Services.

The Department of Social Services has over the years, given assistance to needy families. This assistance has impacted education in terms of meeting the costs of students meals at school and providing uniforms, etc.

The Ministry of Community Development, Sports, Youth and Women Affairs has also, through the Sports Office, funded programmes that have impacted on education directly or indirectly. The Sports Office has provided assistance with athletics, football and cricket in the primary and secondary schools. The maintenance of certain school playing fields that are used by the community during out-of-school hours, is funded by the Sports Office as well.

In addition, the District Community Development Officers have involved the schools, particularly the primary schools, in community-based programmes in sports and other areas. Indeed the officers responsible for the Eastern districts were directly involved along with the PTA and the Ministry of Education in the provision of an ECCE facility and staffing the facility in that district.

(iii) The available data shows an annual increase in recurrent expenditure. This may

be due in part, however, to increase in the cost of living, cost of services, and additional demand for services as a result of population growth. Tables A & B show that expenditure for Special and Tertiary Education also increased. A similar trend was experienced with regards to private schools expenditure.

Funding for Private Schools

Government provides financial assistance to private schools in the form of an annual grant which is based on a specific formula. Some of these schools provide education for students from pre-school to high school, very often on the same site, although in some cases there is a distinctive primary and secondary organizational and structural arrangement. In other cases, there is just provision for pre-school to high school (K-12) in the same building.

Government’s commitment to provide this grant to the private schools stems from the belief that these institutions are providing valuable service in the education of Caymanian children, and that in the long run it works to Government's advantage since they would not have to provide school places for these children enrolled in the private school system. Additionally it would allow the schools to keep their fees in a range that is affordable to their clients.

Indicator 9 and 10 - Percentage of primary school teachers having the requird academic qualifications; and the Percentage of primary school teachers who are certified to teach according to national standards.

Policy

  1. Since the early 1970’s all teachers employed in the Cayman Islands public school systems were required to be fully certified. This requirement was subsequently extended to include teachers employed in the private schools.

By the beginning of the 1980’s teachers recruited locally or from overseas were required to have Bachelors degrees in education or Bachelor degrees in particular subject areas with teaching certification. In addition expatriate teachers are required to have five years experience. Those teachers in the service, Caymanian and long-standing expatriates, with trained teacher certification were given an opportunity to improve their qualifications. The Education Department in collaboration with the University of Miami conducted an in-service course for teachers leading to a Bachelors of Science degree. As a result of this course which was held on weekends, with two summer residencies and lasted for three years, twenty four educators, including teachers from the primary and secondary level and administrators graduated in 1988.

Teachers-Aide Programme

Each year school leavers who have expressed interest in pursuing teaching as a career are given the opportunity to experience some on-the-job pre-service training. So far the number of students making this an option has been relatively small in comparison to those showing interest in business related fields.

However, these graduates are taken into ‘apprenticeship’ and attached to a class teacher as an aide. During this period, in addition to gaining some invaluable on-the-job experience, the teachers aide very often makes the decision whether he or she wishes to continue in teaching, and makes preparation for further education accordingly.

Indicator 11

Pupil/Teacher ratio

Policy

  1. The pupil-teacher ratio varies considerably among public schools. There is a relationship between the pupil-teacher ratio and the size of the school population. The enrolment at the two secondary schools on Grand Cayman – Junior secondary or middle school and high school – usually ranges between 750-850. While the school population of the primary schools very often reflects the density or lack thereof of their communities/districts.

The sister island of Cayman Brac has three primary schools and one secondary school all with enrolments of less than 150 pupils. Even where the class teacher is responsible for two year groups, the pupil-teacher ratio is still favourable.

The Government’s policy since the late 1970’s has been to limit the pupil-teacher ratio in all schools. Consequently the national ratio has ranged between 1:18 to 1:20 with some school as low as 1:12.

This favourable position has been accomplished primarily by a major recruitment of teachers from overseas. This initiative started in the early 1970’s and has continued as the principal source of staffing local schools.

Over time a cadre of overseas teachers have emerged to make a significant contribution as educators in the Cayman public school system. The need therefore, to recruit from overseas has tapered off considerably.

Indicator 12

Repetition rates by grade

Policy

  1. In 1979, the then Member of the Executive Council responsible for Education, the Hon. Truman Bodden, formulated a number of policies – Education Policies 1979 – which were aimed at addressing some areas of deficiency in education at that time. That document which spoke on areas such as homework, promotion, class size, inter alia, was the driving force in education provision until the 1990’s reform initiatives which began with the Education Review at the beginning of the decade.
  2. The Education Policies stated specifically that pupils should be retained in a class for the ‘period of time deemed necessary’ or be given extra help if the pupils failed to achieve a minimum standard in an area. Originally retention was undertaken through collaboration with parents, principal, curriculum advisor, special staff, and class teacher. Over time, however, the practice is for pupils to be retained in Year 2 and year 6 if considered appropriate based on results.

    But in the schools with larger class sizes, demographics impact this and necessitate retention to be a matter of last resort.

  3. Generally, the practice is to use retention as an option. In some schools it may be used more liberally than others. The pupil’s overall social and emotional development is also taken into account before opting for retention. Consequently there is hardly a pattern regarding retention. A pupil who scored 30% and below on the criterion reference test set by the Education Department in Mathematics and Science for Year 1 to 5 and the C.A.T.5 Standardised test (for all years) is likely to be retained.

However, in spite of the above practice, no statistics relevant to repetition rates have been kept.

Indicator 13 and 14 - Survival rate to grade 5 and coefficient of efficiency

  1. Education for students from 4 years 9 months, to 16 years old is free and compulsory. Generally students attend school regularly, and the average daily attendance rate is the 90th percentile. While this is so throughout the system, attendance at the primary school level even tends to be consistently higher than at the secondary level.

Section 13 of the Education Law 1983, which speaks to compulsory education, and successive government commitment to the provision of facilities, adequate resources (human and material), and overall interest in the achievement of students resident in these islands, all impact positively on a cohort of pupils completing the primary school phase of their education.

Indicator 15

Learning Achievement and Outcomes

Percentage of Pupils having reached at least grade four of primary school who master a set of nationally defined basic learning competencies.

1. Minimum Competencies

There are minimum competencies in the core subject areas in primary education. This is also the case at the junior secondary level. Although up to now, there has been less direct control from the Education Department with regards to curriculum matters at that level than at the primary level. The curriculum of the senior secondary school, the John Gray High is principally driven by the requirements of the course work of the Caribbean Examination Council, International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), and other overseas examinations, including the City and Guilds, as set out in their syllabuses.

In the primary schools in the Cayman Islands there is no greater significance attached to measurement of pupils’ performance at Year 4 than at any other grade. Apart from natural attrition, relocation or inter-school transfers, a cohort which starts out in Year 1 completes the entire primary school cycle and is transferred to the George Hicks High School at the end of Year 6.

Minimum levels of learning for primary schools in the core subjects have been in effect since the 1980's, and the source for these levels in the particular subject area is as follows:

Minimum learning levels for primary level English: Language Arts Curriculum

Guide, Curriculum Section, Education Department, Cayman Islands, 1981

Minimum learning levels for primary level Mathematics: Curriculum Guide, Curriculum Section, Education Department, Cayman Islands, 1981

Minimum learning levels for primary level Science: Curriculum Guide, Curriculum Section, Education Department, Cayman Islands, 1981

Minimum levels of learning for primary level Social Studies: Curriculum Guide, Curriculum Section, Education Department, 1983.

Minimum competencies* at each grade are measured annually through Criterion – Referenced Tests developed by Education Department curriculum staff. The administration of tests is monitored by the Education Department's staff, though class teachers act as proctors. The California Achievement Test – CAT5 – a standardised reading instrument is also similarly administered. Additionally teacher-made instruments are given termly and half-termly. Inspite of the foregoing promotion from grade to grade, and from primary school to the junior high school is based primarily on age rather than on achievement, although the latter factor is taken into consideration.

* See Appendices 1 and 2

Policy

There is no definite policy statement as for as setting minimum standards in subject areas currently in effect. However, the dictates of the curriculum expressed in the curriculum guides in the core subjects tend to drive a minimum standard for achievement at each grade level. The newly created National Curriculum will have minimum learning standards measurable at Years 3, 6 and 9.

The establishments of the School Inspectorate and the scope and extent of their work have impacted the needs for minimum competencies throughout the school system.

The establishment of a national curriculum ‘with standards at every level’ which will fulfill the needs of students of every ability – Strategy 1, Education Development Plan 1995-1999, dictated the need for minimum standards in at least the core subject areas at the primary and junior secondary (middle school) levels.

With learning outcomes clearly defined at key stages and assessment at Years 3, 6, 9, and 12, the National Curriculum will be the driving force behind any future policy in this area.

Indicator 16 and 17

Literacy and Adult Literacy

With education free and compulsory for all Caymanians from the age of five to sixteen years nine months in existence for over three decades, and a regular daily school attendance rate of 85 – 90 percent, the assumption could be made that adult illiteracy is not an issue in the Cayman Islands. This assumption is supported by the UNESCO literacy rating of 98.0% given to the country in 1995. However, there has been no scientific measure of the literacy rate. The Economics and Statistics Department have not to this point included questions eliciting literacy information from the respondents in census surveys.

But the matter has been given some official attention, as has been mentioned earlier in this Report. Cognisance was taken of the need to enhance functional literacy among youth and adults (5-Year Development Plan). Consequently the Education Department, as well as the then local chapter of the International Reading Association launched programmes, including radio jingles for publicity, to address this need where it existed.

The success of the programme at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward, which has been documented more fully elsewhere in the Report, is an example of what could be achieved in the area.

Policy

There is no official policy on adult literacy. Whereas the 5-Year Development Plan had recognised the need for some remediation in this area in the Education Development Plan 1995-1999 (the Strategic Plan) which drives the reform initiative in education, none of its strategies addressed this need directly.

The various committee members during the strategic planning process may have been swayed by the fact that:

    1. Cayman is considered a literate society
    2. The UNESCO literacy rating of 98% given the country in 1995.

Assessment of the Progress of Education Reform and Future Directions in Cayman Education

The Education Development Plan 1995-1999 is due to be reviewed at the end of October 1999. Undoubtedly, the findings will reveal that there are some strategies which have been implemented while there are others which have not been implemented. But this is certainly not an exceptional situation.

As has been mentioned elsewhere in this report, the School Inspectorate – Strategy 3: Specific Objective 2 – has been established and has been functioning. Site based management has been implemented in most schools, and by the year 2000 all schools are expected to have adapted this approach to school management.

Provision continued to be made to meet the needs of individual children in Special Education within the mainstream, at the Lighthouse School and the Alternative Education Centre. Government’s commitment to spend over $11-million within the next two years to provide new facilities in this area, confirms its support for these programmes.

A major "spin off" of the strategic planning exercise which was undertaken during the mid to later part of this decade has been the opportunities provided for collaboration between all stakeholders in education. Parents, representatives of the business and professional sectors, educators, members of the wider community, interest groups were all represented in the strategic planning process. Consequently there is an increased parental and community appreciation and involvement in education. There is also a greater degree of ownership by all stakeholders.

There is always a "downside" in innovation and change. The question begs to be asked then how much autonomy should be invested in the school principals, the school management teams and the Parent Teachers Association? Furthermore, should not there be the expectation that the degree of autonomy invested be matched by an equal level of accountability?

These are issues that will impact the education system in the new millennium. How they are played out depend to a great extent on the findings which emerge when the plan is reviewed and the targets set.

While some targets have been met, there are areas where there have been little or no progress for one reason or another. Certain action plans need to be addressed. Areas such as the creation of School Boards and the implementation of a Code of Ethics for teachers have not been implemented to date nor has a structured plan for staff development materialised.

Another area of great importance which has not been given full attention is the professional development of teachers (strategy 7). Some of the strategy's objectives have been met directly or indirectly. But there are still areas which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency if one wants to achieve what the strategy boldly states: "ensure the continuous development of all staff, with emphasis on elevating the status of the teaching profession." However, missing from this plan is a plan to implement the gradual Caymanisation of the teaching service through the introduction of incentives aimed to attract qualified Caymanians to the teaching profession. The recent regrading of the salary scale for beginning teachers was a step in the right direction in this regard.

That the Education Development Plan does not speak directly to this issue in conjunction with an overall staff development plan programme, may well have been an oversight and should be addressed in any future review.

Public Awareness, Political Will and National Capacities

Public support for education is strong as evidenced by attendance at PTAs, letters to the press, and views expressed on the radio talk show. Service Clubs and private sector organisations give much support and take keen interest in the implementation of these innovations. Parliamentarians from both sides of the house show a great deal of interest in education in these islands. Adequate funding is provided to achieve these goals.

The Church, the pioneer, in education provision in the Cayman Islands has continued to play a major role in this area. Over time other denominations, as part of their mission, have joined the earliest providers of education in these islands, the Presbyterian Church, as partners with Government in education provision. Indeed, only two of the nine private schools are not directly affiliated to a particular Church.

Government's strength appears to be in the area of provision of qualified teachers, adequate instructional resources, and the ongoing maintenance of school buildings and facilities. A weakness seems to be its inability to attract and retain Caymanian teachers; and to build schools in a timely fashion to address the current growth in enrolment, particularly in the greater George Town area.

There has to be the political will to ensure and support the implementation of the Education Development Plan in its entirety, if the missions of the Education System and the individual schools are to be achieved. The Five-year Development Plan identified the need for additional school spaces; therefore a more proactive approach to planning would have, for example, preempted the upsurge in demand for places at the primary level in certain districts and increase accommodation capability in those areas.

It is therefore commendable that between September 1999 and September 2002 some $50m in capital projects are scheduled to come on stream in construction of new facilities and extension to existing facilities. Of these projects only the new high school will cater to secondary level children in the 14-16 age range.

A manpower survey and better communication between Immigration board and Government departments, as well as with the private sector organisations, as it relates to the recruitment of overseas staff and their dependents, are also very crucial factors in resource allocation and provision of facilities in education.

Part III Prospects

Vision 2008 – How Will It Impact Education

In March 1998 a National Strategic Plan was launched with a series of meetings held with various groups including Executive Council and members of the Legislative Assembly. Meetings were held in all districts in all in the three islands, and interviews and surveys were undertaken to identify key issues of particular concern.

In June 1998 a 30-member planning team, met and developed a statement of beliefs, a vision statement, parameters, objectives and 16 strategies. In October, sixteen Round Tables were formed and the 250 individuals in this process came up with the action plans to implement the strategies.

After the necessary revisions, the National Strategic Plan has been approved as the plan to drive Cayman’s future development into the first decade of the new millennium.

This National Strategic Plan – also known as Vision 2008 – has implications for education as well. For not only does it speak to education as a part of a wider development plan, but it also speaks directly to the implementation of the Education Development Plan 1996-1999.

The Vision 2008 Plan ensures that attention is given to the implementation of the Education Development Plan. Two of Vision 2008’s plans call for the identifying of gaps in the Education Development Plan and expresses the need for the implementation of remaining action plans.

The education component in the Vision 2008 Plan also calls for the expansion of provision of tertiary education. It stresses life long learning, the creation of a Career Advisory Service and the establishment of a Policy Review System. The Vision 2008 plan ensures that Government will continue to keep education as a priority.

The reform initiatives in this decade have given the Cayman Islands education system a solid platform for its launch into the new millennium. The opportunities they offer to reach greater heights of excellence must be grasped with both hands.




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