Defending Universal Secondary Education

Steve Hyacinth

A strong defence of the Universal Secondary Education thrust of the governing Dominica Labour Party administration, by  Chief Education Officer Steve Hyacinth.

The universal education thrust has its share of critics, some of whom suggest that the Ministry of Education should revert to what was known as the Junior Seondary  Progamme, done in conjunction at the time with the Common Entrance Examination which the current Grade 6 National Assessment has replaced.

Concern has been expressed in the media and elsewhere, that under the current programme which provides secondary space for all the students who sit that exam, even students who perform poorly are given the benefit of a secondary education they may not be equipped to take  advantage of.

Hyacinth has explained that currently, there are provisions for student s who received failing grades in the exam to repeat in Grade 6, following consultation with their parents and the school they attend.

The Chief Education Officer was asked whether the less than average students end up losing their way in the secondary education system.

“The child has to believe in himself or herself, and at the (new) school the conditions there have to be conducive to learning,” Hyacinth said in response while also indicating that parents have to try to motivate their children to embrace the learning process.

What the education system is doing directly to address the problem was not clearly defined by the leading education official’s response however, although he ventured to give his “frank” opinion.

“This country could not continue with what used to be the common entrance examination, where 30 students out of a cohort would enter in secondary school.  Within the world order today, we had to ensure that every child had that opportunity at his disposal,” the chief education officer explained.

According to him the former common entrance exam was a case of “selecting the cream of the crop”.

“Some people could even refer to that as being elitist,” the education official said.

He also made reference to the three-year Junior Secondary Programme that some  critics of Universal Secondary Education suggest should be re-instated.

However Hyacinth says while some of the students of that programme performed well and were able to get into third form in secondary school, the numbers the schools were able to accommodate were just not substantial enough to make the programme viable.

“So only a few students after three years in the Junior Secondary Programme got into the third form of the secondary school and did well – we’ve said that is not a fair system for students who did not have the opportunity to move in through the common entrance examination,” Hyacinth contends.

“Universal Secondary Education is the way forward to ensure that every child has that opportunity to move on,” he insists.

He also made reference to “a constant rise in the performance of students” under the current system.

“We are not saying that every child is going to get ten subjects – I firmly believe that every human being, every child has something to offer humanity.  And so secondary education does not only focus on maths, science, social studies which are important.  We have to look at the technical aspects of this development,” he said.

“For me, Universal Secondary Education is  a must, for me Universal Secondary Education is working because every child has an opportunity and we cannot, we should never, deny any the opportunity to go through a system of education that deals with his aptitude, his ability, his skills and his potential,” the chief education officer concluded.

The political directorate too, is apparently satisfied that the system is working.

“It is quite clear that since 2005 we have made tremendous gains, as far as access is concerned  we stand by our policy of universal secondary education.  We believe that every child must be given an opportunity to access quality education,” Education Minister Peter St Jean said.

He conceded however that there was likely to be “a small percentage of the children who write the national assessment examinations who may not be adequately prepared to enter secondary school”.

According to the education minister, these students have the option of repeating Grade 6 at their primary school in an attempt to be better prepared the following year.

“We recognize that there are tremendous challenges with universal secondary education, it is not a perfect system, no system is 100 per cent full proof.  However my ministry is working constantly to ensure that we provide the best for every Dominican child”.

St Jean said having delivered on access, the government was now working “on the quality that we deliver.”

He said his ministry would soon be piloting a new programme – the Caribbean Vocational Qalifications Act for secondary schools.
That programme is expected to focus on skills development.

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  1. Anonymous
    June 26, 2012

    This country could not continue with what used to be the common entrance examination, where 30 students out of a cohort would enter in secondary school. Within the world order today, we had to ensure that every child had that opportunity at his disposal,” the chief education officer explained.
    Sir no one is saying that universal ed is not the way to go but sending a unprepared child to a high school is disaster for all students those who are prepared as well as those who could have stayed longer getting prepared. I suggest all students not ready for high school by age 12 should be placed in a special programme. How do u explain out of an enrollment of nearly 240 students at the DGS 160 could not reach the 4 subject 55% pass grade.u and this government are letting down the youth of our nation and all concerned need to get back to the drawing board and do the neccessary adjustment for our nations future.

    • Teacher
      June 27, 2012

      Another measurement, based on the number of students who enter Secondary Schools, is the Ministry of Education satisfied with the CXC results? When the numbers are compared, is the Ministry satisfied? How many students graduate? How many students are expelled? How many students are able to read on their levels? since the inception of Universal Education, has the ministry followed the first set of students to see how they are doing, are they tested again at some point, lets say second form to see if they are on target? How many have repeated 1st form?

      How do these children test in English, reading, math and science? Where do the children score the lowest and what is being done to improve this? If we Universal, we have to be Universal in every way.

      People talk about other countries and compare Dominica but is Dominica really ready, Is Universal Ed a good idea, yes it is BUT, there need to be measures in place. I firmly believe that these children should be given another standardized test to track and monitor the UE program. I don’t really know much but just concern and this is to also preserve our teachers.

      I compare this to indigent parents who continuously make children and have to plans for upbringing them and is unable to care for them, so other people have to take them.

  2. COMon
    June 26, 2012

    USE is a good thing but the government rushed into it. They are many questions that could have been avoided if they had taken their time to implement USE.

    I’m not against each household having a high school graduate but they should have considered how their action would affect a children that perform BELOW minimum standards (drastically failed the g6).

    All children have they own little frustration and by placing them in an environment, that they are not mentally prepared for and exposed to all sorts of things; My ARM! Y u think they are so hostile or easily aggitated?

    another thing is that parent needd to pay more attention to their children and the things they do from the get go. Never giving up or giving them too much liberty that they want to walk over you!

  3. out of south city
    June 26, 2012

    I agree with nit. While it remains that every child should be given that opportunity to learn or attain an education, everyone is not book oriented. I believe that everyone is born with a special talent and if that talent is not carried out in life then that life remains unfulfilled. Some people are mechanically minded and may not perform well in other areas. Therefore, what ever area a child is good at, that’s where that child will succeed in. We should nurture the gifts that our children are born with so as to develop their potentials in life. We should not force anything on our children that will hinder them or where they may not be able to perform in futuristically.

  4. nit
    June 26, 2012

    I believe the ministry of education should invest in more technical schools in Dominica. Not all kids are academically inclined, there are many children who are good with their hands; agriculture, carpentry, tilling, wood work, home EC, welding, whatever the case may be. Provisions should be made for these kids. These should be part of the curriculum in the Secondary schools. We need the technically inclined students in our society.. If we don’t make provisions to accommodate these students, who is gonna build our house, fix our cars, plant crops etc.. Every child has something to offer and and so provisions should be made for these students so they wont feel like they are being left out..Kids will have a sense of belonging and they will be willing to work hard to achieve their goals..
    I have no problem with USE, but unless we don’t make changes such as integrating the technical subjects in the Secondary school curriculum, we will continue having a lot of kids failing and dropping put of school..

  5. Morihei Ueshiba
    June 26, 2012

    Universal Secondary Education is the worse reform ever done to Dominica education system, just look at the results in grammar school, St.Joseph High School and portsmouth secondary school.
    Compare our schools today to those in 1985. 8)

    • NOTICE
      June 26, 2012

      U know it strange u should have said that, these words were echoed by you already and I did tell you that you are part of system so you have also failed.

      What the latest the same stories all the time. But I am happy the few students who do not want to learn it stems fromtheir upbrining. I head the mother of the Student who cam second in this year grade six exams saying, she the mother always in book so the children emulate her. These are the things we must invetigat, children live and learn what they are taught.

      If they want to waste their time – they suffer for it in the long run Do not blam the MEo – blam we parents on the way we bring up our children

    • Anonymous
      June 26, 2012

      Pierre Charles Secondary also.

  6. i'mWondering
    June 26, 2012

    I applaud the idea of USE. The idea itself is amazing, but the issue I have is whether Dominica is ready for it?
    What adaptations are mad ein school to help the less advantaged? Are there specialised/ specifically trained teachers to deal with the kid swho have behavioral problems, learning disabilities etc?

    I have bene out of Dominica for a long time, but if the practise is the same, where recent graduates of high school and college are the ones being the “teachers” then i see why our system will continue to fail.

    The issue with the program CANNOT be that many kids are stupid, or they failes, or cant read and write. All kids are different, learn differently, go through different issues at different times.

    How can we condem a program without providing the basics to give it a fighting chance? Sure, all kids should be given the opportunity t o obtain a secondary school eduction. BUT, also, all kids should be given the opportunity to learn and grow within an establishment where there needs are not only understood but met.

    Perhaps, people should advocate for more qualified teahcers, continuing education for such teahers, special educators, other courses which may provide other skills to the kids.

    In today’s society – one has to be able to read and write, have a secondary education as a basic, to progress in a wider society.

    the world doesn’t end at the shores of Dominica – at least give them the opportunity. I guess the call for teaching a man to fish is apt her – teach a kid his/her potential and help him/her reach it…and success will be guaranteed

  7. Just Asking
    June 26, 2012

    St Jean said having delivered on access, the government was now working “on the quality that we deliver.”

    Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Seems like saying let the family occupy a house which it cannot afford to maintain.

    June 26, 2012

    I cna’t believe dcans are against universal secondary education….if you tell that to others in other caribbean countries they would just laugh at us…in this world high school is just the first step with many more steps to go….IF children are not ready for common entrance the problem is not high school its at the elementary level…were is special education services…that what we need in dca…in this day and age we should have speacial ed services for children who are struggling academically to help them master the material taught

    • Teacher
      June 26, 2012

      Dominica does not believe in special education. It’s either you learn or you get out. They do not believe that children can have learning disabilities. Every person whom I have come into contact with, who specializes in learning disability has been turned down and not given a a job or placed somewhere else. The teachers are equipped to deal with the behavioral issues, they are not trained on special education and they are expected to perform as magician. SO the system will remain the same as long as those in charge continue to misguide the minister.

      It is time for fresh faces in the ministry.

  9. Sisserou
    June 26, 2012

    It appears that many readers believe that a secondary education is sufficient for success. While in the pass a secondary education with GCE/ CXC passes was sufficient to obtain a decent job this is no longer the case. A secondary education is the minimun that is required to be functional in todays society. College or technical school with a technical certificate, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is becoming the norm for what is required for entry level in today’s work environment. Obviously with some exceptions. “USE” is merely providing everyone with the bare minimum and that should be encouraged.

  10. Nkrumah Kwame
    June 26, 2012

    DNO, there seems to be an error in the penultimate paragraph. It says”He said his mimistry would soon be piloting a new PROGRAMME – the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications Act. My misunderstanding stems from the issue that a PROGRAMME cannot be an ACT. Please clarify this situation.

  11. Just Reading
    June 26, 2012

    How can the minister and Chief Education Officer say that USE is working, when despite lower graduation expectation of the 250 something students who left the DGS this year, only about 80 something graduated? And this is a trend in many high schools. What happened to the others? How can they contribute to society?

    In fact, if you have to inquire into the many who didn’t graduate at this institution, many are products of USE- they could hardly read or write well, created the most trouble at the school, loitered a lot to shy away from the frustration at the school.

    It’s a shame the type of society the ministry of education is creating with their ridicule USE: then, we cry and so why there are so many thieves among us: why the youths have no direction and behave so badly.

    • See It
      June 26, 2012

      You see people like you are the ones who critize the system because you are selfish, As a parent I hope you brough up your children in the right way – have you been to PTA or inquire about your child. As parents do you all take up your responsibity and help your children.

      The Ministry of Education can only do their work and the parent or guardians.

      Remember when People critize you are not telling their story but your story. Using them as your scapegoat remember that

  12. zengleden deplacee
    June 26, 2012

    So Much Hypocritical Braying is going on about the Universal Education system! Nothing is wrong with the Universal Education system: many things are lacking from the Home settings, dysfunctional families and a breakdown in Moral and Spiritual Values,the lack of support from some parents and guardians, the hypocrisy that is exhibited especially on graduation days when the children do well; The early childhood system has to become more creative and adaptable to modern teaching styles; The Primary school system should be totally revamped from grade one – the sea exam class: Teachers should be challenged like in other countries to get qualified with some degree and so forth. Its only then we will be able to have quality young men n women who are ready for the secondary school system. Facing reality is another issue that bedevils the education system in Dominica. Students are human persons with various gifts and talents. Some are academically inclined and some are naturally gifted to technical vocational programs. Imaging having someone who is more techincally inclined doing academic things, this could be a night mare!
    additionally, there should be various tests conducted by psychologists and other mental health experts on every child from a tender age to find out whether or not there are some deficiencies and how best to remedy these issues! To many of the Kids are suffering from psychological issues which if not addressed can become stumbling blocks.
    That being said: I support the Univesral Education system 100%. Thank God for universal education: It has leveled the playing field. Everybody has a fair chance. Its not about, rich folks, colored, Carib, chinese, Africans, we all in the same boat its now a matter of who can perform to the best of their abilities. Face the reality, not everyone is going to be tops, but the universal education has open so many doors for folks. Education is the passport to the future!

  13. Pondera
    June 26, 2012

    Universal education is really not the issue. In fact this is commendable. The difficulty there is that our system needs to be aligned to adequately respond to the challenges of universal education. Stop the defence and deal with what I refer to as “the miscalculated universal education system”

  14. Sean
    June 25, 2012

    I must confess I could not read or write properly and my teacher when Universal Education came on board Mrs. Bruno helped me and I was given the opportunity to attend High School. So why you do not want others to do the same , it is an opportunity for us all I can now see my dream of attending a High School accomplished. Thanks Ministry of Education. I am now at the Call Centre

    • ahwa
      June 26, 2012

      you too lie.

  15. ya kill me, si!!!!!!
    June 25, 2012

    there is no such thing as perfection. there are flaws on ur face, there will be flaws everywhere else.
    no child left behind and each one getting an opportunity to try at secondary school is very good.
    most of the teachers today are not commited to making their students learn. their motivation is the meagre salary they will be recieving. so if there was a jsp, it will be completely different from the one i used to know when the teachers actually had a love for teaching. t
    trust me, jsp would hold no value with the quality of instruction that teachers put out
    and stop thinking only in terms of academics. each child has his unique gift and we dont see it because we focus on business and sciences subjects. how about the artists, the carpenters, the building contractors, electricians, etc.
    lets find our children’s strong qualities and help them develop on them and i hope that the government will put more into place, if there isnt enough, to ensure that children capitalize on their good interests and not solely on the academics which are the core subjects

  16. Malgraysa
    June 25, 2012

    If it’s that good, why does it need defending? Everybody would be clamouring for it and our sister islands would copy it, not so?

  17. Review
    June 25, 2012

    According to Mr. Hyacinth,”Universal Secondary Education is working.”
    Really CEO. I beg to differ, because there are not sufficient resources in place to suppoprt USE. Let’s use DGS as a case in point. At the DGS there were almost 200 if not more in the fifith forms however only about 80 graduated. Most of the students entered secondary school because of USE. Is that an example of USE working. Go back to the drawing board with USE.

  18. concerned
    June 25, 2012

    I do understand the Government wanting to adopt the no child left behind, however its an American system which has failed and continues failing badly. Why adopt something that doesn’t work. Certainly its not beneficial to the kids, teachers or parents… If anything its an added burden to high school teachers and frustration to lotus of kids who can neither read nor write at elementary level much more to do some at a high school level… Further more not everybody is caught up for high school… A system should be put in place to teach failing students a trade that they can learn to better themselves…..

  19. Eagle
    June 25, 2012

    “This country could not continue with what used to be the common entrance examination, where 30 students out of a cohort would enter in secondary school. Within the world order today, we had to ensure that every child had that opportunity at his disposal,” the chief education officer explained.”

    Nonsense! Then why not create a system where those who did not passed the exam be given a different education plan to catch on what they missed. Where is the data which shows their strengths and weaknesses vs a one size fits all exams which has now turn into an all for high school plan. What is the purpose of the testings anyway, if everyone is going to High School with no individual plans, if the area in which they show weakness is scaled.

    I don’t get it. It is an injustice to our society if the program continue the way it is right now. Standardized is needed but for what purpose if the students do not understand where they failed on the exam. They are just thrust into a high school of their choice and the mess continues. It is nice to say that all can go to school, but at to what and whose expense.

  20. KaliBud
    June 25, 2012

    To all the Nay-sayers: what we need to do is improve both the primary and secondary systems, and not deny anyone the opportunity for education (it’s a human right). Also, parents need to play a more active role in their children’s education. I wish we had that in my time…many more of my friends would have had secondary qualifications.

    Admin: Last line should read “…to focus on…”

  21. sout city
    June 25, 2012

    the educational system in the virgin island is very good the children must have a 89 to 90 percent average mark to be transferred to any school or promoted to any class.over dominican children does very well where every they go.they are graduateing with high honours.go back to common entrance,send them to summer school if they fail all their exames make it manditory whatever subjects fail for promotion let them do it for summer school then if their grades goes up u promote them.they must go to summer school in full uniform.

    • Sisserou
      June 26, 2012

      Based on your statement it is obvious that you know very little about the Virgin Islands public education system. Many educators in the sysytem who can afford it send their children to private or parochial schools to get a better education. I must say it should never be a question of access to secondary education. However, the total education system should be revamped so every student should be given an opportunity for a quality education from kindergaten through high school. I am a product of the ’70’s education system when only a few of us were selected for secondary school through the common entrance elimination process. I am certain that many students who were not selected could have performed just as well or better than those of us who did. Give everyone a chance but prepare them for the challenge.

      • Just Asking
        June 26, 2012

        prepare them for the challenge.”

        That is the essential requirement.

  22. robin
    June 25, 2012

    universal secondary education is a sore and a disgrace! The education system didn’t need this. All it needed was a proactive approach from the private schools to accept qualified candidates. For example I know for a fact in my time 90’s high schools like CHS accepted students from prominent families who failed common entrance or got really low passes. This type of practise needed to stop. Also, in the primary schools they need to mix up the kids and not segregate by grouping all top performers in one class and those who performed the lowest were placed in another. That is calculated abuse of power by many of the principals. When I was in SMS that’s what they did. They had a smart class, mediocre and dumb class. They didn’t spell it out like that but the people knew how they seperated children. Even though I love me some SMS what they did to hundreds of young girls before and during my era in those (“3” classes 1-3, 2-3, 3-3, 4-3, 5-3, 6-3, 7-3 and then they made a 7-4) was total abuse and wickedness. Kids encourage each other and good habits can rub off on children by their peers who they see are focused and are hard workers. What the System needed was to eradicate JSP and innovate technical courses even within the primary schoool level for those kids who aren’t natural book worms. There are so many subjects that could be taught on primary school level to encourage success in Dominican kids. The teachers also need to be trained to assist children with their future goals. Those lazy Dominican parents need to do the same instead of waiting for some dumb minister to send all children to high school even when they aren’t prepared. Dominican children are the way they are because their laissez faire parents, dumb, inept, non innovative PM and his lazy ministry keep failing the youths over and over again! smh! students.

  23. retired civil servan
    June 25, 2012

    the chief education officer must find out why we have all the drop outs from 3rd form the children not only cannot read but they cannot write they do not understand what secondary school education mean Use common entrance in his time we will have more interest from the parents

    • KIM
      June 25, 2012

      That was written by a teacher who is in the job for economical reasons. She is right now telling us her story – not the children. So take your job seriously and teach the children- be interested in them and teach them

  24. teacher
    June 25, 2012

    While I agree that USE is a good move we need to face the fact that some students do not have the prerequisite skills. That is why at Achievement Learning Centre we have launched a program called the Education Opportunity Program. It is our belife that this program will complimment the USE. It is a Life Skills Based/Life Centered Career Education program. students will be exposed to intensive work in numeracy and literacy and at the same time gain the necessary tools to prepare them for life.
    The objectives are to provide an alternative education program where students will be exposed to learning experiences that can impove their lives and transform society. For more information about this program call 4406992.

  25. Caribbean Lady
    June 25, 2012

    These critics baffle me.

    EVERY developed and civilized country on earth provides universal secondary education.

    It is not an American system as the commenter ‘anonymous’ claims. It is a universally accepted standard of an equitable and progressive society.

    The snobbish argument that children may not be ‘equipped’ to handle secondary education is dumbfounding. I don’t think anyone is arguing that every secondary school will provide the exact same education at the same pace to all students. You adjust to the needs and ability of the students in your school.

    But a basic high school education is a must to progress.

    • awa wi
      June 25, 2012

      comparing what’s happening in dominica to first world countries is not a fair comparison. the schools are not equiped to deal with the remedial and technical children. its all good to say everyone deserves an opportunity but ensuring that its actually an opportunity is another thing. if the program has to have some success then there must be a serious investment in terms of training of specialized staff and the necessary resources to provide these kids with a true opportunity at secondary education.(some of that 8 million to liat or some of the 20 million from the state palace could have probably earmarked for investment in the future of dominica.)

      • Caribbean Lady
        June 26, 2012

        Barbados was not first world when they introduced universal secondary education in 1971.

        Now they pretty much are. See the connection?

        It is a perfectly fair expectation. Countries cannot become first world nor be considered without universal secondary education.

        As the good chief said, you’re not expecting every child to get a load of certificates. But secondary education is a basic right in a progressive society – if you want to progress.

  26. shame, Shame,SHAME!!
    June 25, 2012

    From what i kn Pre school comes b4 primary school and then comes secondary so how can u have USE before UPreE and UPriE….as a result alot of these children go to school like goats but come out like arses….. they cant read, spell, count, write etc….. and the Min of Edu has a policy that no more than 10% of them can repeat so weather they have dominated the material or not they must be promoted…. and now they are here defending their USE this USE is USELESS… tell steve and goldberg come again with policies they are adapting to our eudcation system … skettit them tried to fix a system that was not broken as a result we have CHAOS!!! What a great “Next Level” we have…

  27. ....................
    June 25, 2012

    USE has nothing to defend. From its inception it has been a huge failure in reality, even if certain people are trying to justify it.
    E PAR BON!

    • Karl
      June 25, 2012

      I am sure it help your child or a family members. It help me I was given an opportunity

  28. Reader
    June 25, 2012

    I still can’t believe that in this day and age people are still opposed to the concept of universal secondary education. One would think it is a good think that we make it possible for all of our children to have access to a high school education. I recall doing common entrance decades ago and having kids in my class who failed (3 times) and were 13 so they had “no more chance”. Some were sent to carry fig, others to fish and sadly, most of the girls became mothers/common-law wives way before their times with little or no employment prospects. Is that what we want to go back to? Is this the kind of society that we want for our children? Do we want a system that discards it’s youth because they did not pass a standardize test by age 13? Simply because some of us were products of a flawed system (and passed) then does that mean that others should suffer the same fate? Truly mind-boggling!!

    I agree, there are some areas where USE is lacking. But, like the gentleman said, we have improved access, let’s focus on improving quality.

  29. the word
    June 25, 2012

    I agree with Mr. Steve, When i went and write the exams in late eighties i was the only one who past the exams living 29 student behind, those who were lucky to get a space in high school did because their parents had to buy the principal of the school with fish. Some of these student was end up on the road today they say they wish they had the opportunity to have attended high. Therefore i applaude the universal education, noone can blame the government for not attending high school, if they fail they fail by themselves, as each person has to account for his or her actions. My nephew who go 4 D in the accessment exams is doing much better than those who got a scholars.

    June 25, 2012

    Something very interesting would be to implement a SUMMER INSTITUTE PROGRAM for three weeks at the various secondary schools around the island for pupils who did not do exceedingly well at the National Assessment Exam, to give them a feel of what secondary education is about and to better prepare them for the secondary classrooms in September. Instruct them in Maths, English, Religion, Social Studies,Hygiene and Natural Science in the classroom including homework and exams everyday. If they do well, they are accepted at the secondary schools. If they do not do well they would have to repeat Grade 6 at their primary school. Some kids just do not have the temperament for National Exams and we cannot judge kids based solely on the National Assessment Exam.

    • teaacher
      June 26, 2012

      This is what the Achievement Learning Center is proposing we are hoping that once they reach the competency level that the secondary school will accept those who would like to go. They have choice . It is a transition program. we are now accepting applications.

  31. Court Officer
    June 25, 2012

    It seems the argument for Universal secondary education (USE), is one about “SPACE” as opposed to one being about learning. Common entrance was certainly not about enlisting the cream of the crop it was about enlisting those capable and proven to be able to learn in a certain process. those who were not able were sent to the JSP program so that they could be taught in a different fashion and they had the option to attend technical college afterward and many of those people are the same people doing technical work right now. USE is a failed american model and it should have never been used to replace the working model which we had. We could have simply expanded our high schools as we have done to accomodate USE however now we are sending students to high school who cannot even read and write and regardless of what argument you want to use, that is WRONG!

    • KaliBud
      June 26, 2012

      what working model? less than 50% got a chance to go to high school, of which less than 50% got a chance to go to A-levels, of which less than 50% got a chance to go to university (and I’m being extremely conservative)

  32. Well
    June 25, 2012

    Elitist! What nonsense is this? I worked hard in primary school in the 80’s and claimed my position in high school. Elistist?! Smh!

    These students now have no appreciation of working hard. Ask the teachers. I speak to many of them. Since universal education many of them have lost their edge and figure they will go to high school anyway. And they do not work hard to build a good foundation.

    The high school teachers are complaining. Some of the children are just not up to standard. And it is causing disruptions and slowness in the classroom. Why should my child be held back because the others cannot cut it. It is not fair to those who worked hard and achieved.

    The primary school teachers are fustrated because the kids from an early age are not interested.

    And do you think the parents are going to agree to let their children repeat Grade 6! Very few. They are ready to curse out the teachers for even suggesting it.

    Say what you want, but the system is sorely lacking. It is lacking in remedial programmes for kids who are not up to par. You are not doing them any favors by sending them to high school. The teachers and schhols get fed up of doubling them and just send them up. That is why for the first time in our history we are having illeterate children leaving high school.

    • teaacher
      June 26, 2012

      read my comment this is the answer

    • Caribbean Lady
      June 26, 2012

      Let me ask you something. You “worked hard” in primary school to get one of the limited places in secondary school.

      You don’t think that ANY of the children who were not smart enough to get one of the limited places were also working hard?

      And you genuinely think that all of “these students now” don’t appreciate working hard? You don’t think there are children out there who are not the brighest but are trying as hard as they can?

      I agree with you that the system needs bolstering with remedial programmes and so on but the answer is not to do away with the whole thing until it is absolutely perfect. You must keep working at it to perfect it.

      Countries like Barbados, St. Kitts and Bahamas have had universal secondary education for 30, 40 years now and look where they reach compared to other islands that only get to it in the last 10 years or not at all. It is like allu want the majority of Dominicans to stay backward forever so you can feel better about yourselves. :-x

  33. Ahsin.
    June 25, 2012

    I think the premise behind universal secondary education is a good idea. But I’m not sure if it’s achieving what it was set out to do. True that everyone has the opportunity to go to High School. But is everyone competent to complete the curriculum as it is. Some people need a little extra assistance, what about those students who have aptitudes for trades, like automechanic etc. I think USE needs to address these issues.

  34. GOM
    June 25, 2012

    UNIVERSAL SECONDARY EDUCATION as is in Dominica, is a total absolute failure and a waste of time. I need nobody in Education to educate me about it.USE is expensive and to cater for these students money has to pumped into the system more than into LIAT! This is not being done, so most of the students get lost along the way. Some graduate just being able to write their names, some cannot read etc…Teachers have to specially trained to deal with some of these children.IT’S A MESS! A TOTAL MESS! A CRISIS IN EDUCATION IN DOMINICA as far as USE is concerned. Who wants to paint a rosy picture of USE do so but i know it’s a total and absolute disaster.
    I will not even address the disruption, bullying,obscenity galore at our public schools presently. Weak and lazy Principals at the Public schools help to compound the problem. These principals talk a lot and deliver nothing…

  35. Secretary
    June 25, 2012

    TRUE that EVERY child has a right to education……… BUT those who can’t read and write at primary school level, and move up grades just because of age are the ones who struggle in Form 1 for 3 years and then have to leave secondary school..NO SECOND CHANCE……. the JSP system worked as it focussed on skills….. you know, the students who are not book smart (illiterate) but taught how to put the parts of a dinning chair together definitely gets it…… can still go out and get jobs…… and most did get into a secondary school programme for a second chance!

    • KaliBud
      June 25, 2012

      In case u didn’t realise, its only laborers that get jobs without a secondary education. Secondary education is now considered basic education, especially if you want to learn any trade formally. How else will u be able to read a drawing, or understand a written document.

  36. anonymous
    June 25, 2012

    Adopting an american system of education which has been proven to be one the worst education systems in the world to replace a system which has been proven functioning to our society is just a backward step and a contraction to our society! is going to high school for everyone?

    • really?
      June 25, 2012

      I am not a fan of America. However, how students perform in America has no bearing on student’s performance in Domininca. What I understand from this article is issue of OPPORTUNITY. Every child should be given the opportunity to move on to higher education. Otherwise, Dominica will be left behind in terms of literacy. the transition from primary to secondary school (which today hardly carries much weight) should be automatic and not dependent on whether a child passes a high-pressure examination. I think there ought to be a placement test to determine the childs ‘level’ but Dominica children should be given every opportunity to go as far as possible on the education level unless what we want is to be know as the illiteracy capital of the world. That would not be hard to shake off.

      • Eagle
        June 25, 2012

        Given the opportunity yes! but at what expense? The principal later kicked them out if they have behavioral issues thus causing a greater problem for society. The school system is not only about academics, so if the powers that be cannot understand we have failed already.

        There are children who are totally not interested in school, they can hardly read, and all they do is get into fights and other quick forms of making money from an early age. They then go into the high schools and use it as a gateway to peddle drugs and not to mention the creation of gangs which turns into rivals. What say ye then to this? We see the signs, yet nothing is put in place for children who do not pass the exams at the 6th grade, And by the way, what happened to the 7th grade anyway?

        While the opportunity sounds great, there needs to be a plan to move forward. I see the school system as setting up the children and then kicking them later at 3rd and 4th form level when they can’t handle the work. But this did not just appear, the signs were there but ignored. The problems in the schools cannot be ignored. The questions must be answered, we need to understand, why are so many students kicked out of school and left to become menace to their communities. One high school on Island has 2 first forms that are said to be from Hell. Why is that?

        High school is not all about academics. It involves shaping the lives of the young people who make up our society in every way. So if Universal Education is going to be successful then there must be a plan to deal with behavior as well. How do we convert those “bad” students into productive citizens without kicking them out of High school? We have children as young as 12 years being expelled from school for getting into a fight? a fight? come on. What is the plan for these children who were forced into High School? If we want an opportunity for all, then the JSP was a great way for the children to mature and be given a second chance at high school or a vocational career.

    • Saysay
      June 25, 2012

      Going to HighSchool should be for everyone. When a child leaves school at 15yrs old what kind of job do you expect him or her to get? You think the American System doesn’t work? Every child is given a chance to do something with their life,it’s up to that person to take advantage of every possible situation. Don’t be so down on your own.

    • Comedy!
      June 25, 2012

      Everyone has a right to Information! And that is the only thing we must prove. NOw everyone has different aptitudes. So your question should be, IS Biology for everyone? or is Chemistry for everyone? or is Accounting for everyone etc…

      BUt a secondary education is for everyone. Where the program fails, is in the area of subject/fields of study options.

      • Caribbean Lady
        June 26, 2012

        Thank you! Ditto what you said! Secondary education MUST be for everyone in a progressive society.

        It doesn’t mean that every child is going to study the exact same things or at the exact same pace or even doing the same CXCs but to say that we should end children’s education at 11 or 12? That is incredibly backward, elitist thinking!

    • Eagle
      June 25, 2012

      But even the American System has programs available to those who do not want to move on to college. In some High schools, students can leave with certificates in mechanics, cosmetology etc etc then get a job in those fields. They are engaged doing something they like and not have to be pressured. Is that in place in Dominica?

    • hmmm
      June 25, 2012

      yes, going to high school is for everyone. but this isn’t an american system. In america, you have to earn your credits to move from one grade to the next. If it takes you ten years to move from 9th to 10th that is on you. but you wont move. And if upon 12 th grade you dont have the credit, summer school of repeat. up to you. but the ministry is saying you cant repeat the children, parents dont want their children to repreat for whatever reason and so the children go through the process. When you reach 4th grade reading at 2 level how you expect to function. And how you expect the teacher to deal with that problem on top of all the other problems that happen in the class simultaneously.
      When black people are serious about their children education, something will happen.
      Black people, education is a gift….we need to teaach our children its importance.

  37. Grotesque
    June 25, 2012

    While the Universal Secondary Education(USE) program sounds good theoretically, at this point Mr. Hyacinth I believe that more factual information needs to be put forward to defend your claims, give us some statistics, observations, recommendations and conclusions! Honestly it sounds like you want to force people to like it because you like it and the gov’t likes it. I believe enougth time has passed to address the public with some more informed factual progress information; also I personally believe the adaptation of a workable “Technical programme” could’ve already been implemented with on going evaluation. At this era in education parents need better assistance in helping them play their roles in the child’s learning process, all this needs to be looked at under the USE programme. So come again please!

  38. Bella
    June 25, 2012

    This guy is working hard. He is the mouth piece of the MEO. Why is he not being considered for a higher position in the Service.

  39. Believe Me
    June 25, 2012

    Good work my daughter was not up to mark and I was wondering if she would be able to ever attend a secondary school and low and behold she is attending a secondary school and doing well. Prise God when the Government started that programme. It really a way out for we the poor people

  40. Elitist!
    June 25, 2012

    : I Earned My Way Into And Out Of High School! #Elitist! Chat To Mi!!!

    • KaliBud
      June 25, 2012

      Me too. But I would’ve liked to see my less sharp friends get that opportunity. In fact, I did help some of my (new) friends get thru high school.

  41. ok
    June 25, 2012

    CVQ-Caribbean Vocational Qualification

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