Regionally, 46 per cent of students that sat the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) general proficiency mathematics papers in 2019 passed it.
For Jamaica, there is a 54.6 per cent pass rate.
This examination is the minimal mathematics competence required for high school and the world of work. It would be ideal if students mastered the concepts of CSEC additional mathematics syllabus, which is the standard accepted by all developed countries.
The internal and regional politics of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has, in my opinion, produced a series of bad decisions. The removal of CSEC basic mathematics syllabus and the implementation of the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) is one such. The exam is not used by all 16 territories and is equivalent to a grade 9 education in the UK, US and Canada. The CSEC general mathematics syllabus was changed and several topics were removed. I have been using the CSEC mathematics syllabus for over 20 years and I find it too theoretical and orthodox.
Mathematics is essential to understand the world. It is not easy, because it is similar to life, which is not easy, but it is worth it. Learning the importance of quantitative analysis can be used to distinguished facts from opinion. The beauty and practicality of mathematics can best be conveyed to students by first starting with a problem and then using theory to solve it.
In the Caribbean, the reverse pedagogy is used. Like the Guyanese say, fish rot from the head.
The teachers’ colleges and universities and CXC must first innovate and the teachers will follow suit.
We cannot copy the UK, US, and Canada; they have large populations. We, however, must utilise everyone to compete.
Our curriculum is a weak imitation of theirs that does not utilise our strength as a small population in which everyone is significant.
Brian Ellis Plummer
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