But, first, to the good news: the students who excelled. The top finisher this year is Siyun Ye, from Bernice Yorke Institute of Learning in Belize City. She topped her peers easily with a overall total of 391 points, six more than the second place finishers. And that’s right, we said, “finishers”; that’s because there’s a three way tie for second between Vincent Hulse and Nelson Esteban from St Andrews Anglican in Cayo along with Jenessa Sierra from San Pedro RC. There’s a four way tie for third with Agatha Petkau, from United Evergreen in Cayo, Iani Adolphus from Hummingbird Elementary in Belize city along with Sherry Tan and Alana Rosado from Belize Elementary in Belize City. Miracle Mgeahburke from Solid Rock Christian in Stann Creek is alone in fourth and Alexandra Gibson from Hummingbird elementary is tied with Marlina Eck from Belize Elementary and Gordon Knowles from St, Joseph in Belize City for fifth.
“Tell me during the exam – what was the most challenging part for you?”
“The story writing – I’m not a very good writer so the story writing was definitely more challenging for me. I was never really a student that studied everyday, I just basically listened in class. I had a really good teacher, Ms. Chavarria so I definitely have to thank her because she was so dedicated to us and she gave us all the information we needed and I went into the PSE room really confident because I had everything I needed so I just want to thank her. I just want to thank my family and all my friends for supporting me and they believed in me – they knew that I would do really well so I have to thank all of them.”
“Which subject was your weakest. Which one did you not get a 100 on.?”
“The language, writing one.”
Jules Vasquez “Why is that?”
“The time limit – I couldn’t finish.
“There’s not secret you know. As I’ve said before, the importance and emphasis that our school places is early childhood education. That is the launchpad to have students prepared to meet the challenges of Primary education. To ensure that the curriculum is covered and to ensure that students are prepared to meet the next level.”
7359 students sat the exam this year – more than ever before.
But, performance overall was down. English was down slightly to a median score of 58. Math was more or less consistent with a median score of 54.2% but, approximately 45% of students failed, with scores of 49 or less – that’s over three thousand students with a below passing grade. Grades in the subject of social studies are down from last year, but the mean score of 67.2% was the highest. In science scores were also down slightly, but the median remains around 70%.
And so while Math was the biggest trouble area this year, the PSE official release ends on rhapsodic note, saying quote, “the result of the PSE was never intended to…cast blame and point fingers, or attempt to shame teachers, schools and other individuals and groups…” Of course, that’s hardly consolation to the students, who are the only ones getting an E or F, when the results suggest the entire system is failing.
This is the reason that we have been working with Mr Gustavo A. Ramirez, Guidance Counselor / Education Consultant. He is Belizean and grew up and studied within the Belize Education systems, and then studied in the USA to earn a Masters Degree in Education. He has returned several times to Belize to work in the field of Education; he has also worked in Private, Public, Continuation, and Charter schools in the United States. He has a wealth of experience in the field of Education. His articles, which we publish regularly, provide much needed insight on issues affecting our society, especially from an Education angle. We will continue to strengthen our ties with him and release more of his articles to the public. I have been saying for some time now that our Education system in Belize is failing us! The Government needs to step up it’s game and start to work on improving the Education sector to advance all Belizeans and be able to produce world marketable students.
What we need desperately in Belize is for the local Business sector to become much more involved in shaping the curriculum that students are required to complete. Students who graduate need to be fully prepared for the job markets available to them. Students should be studying from locally made curricula, not from a curriculum that is imported or copied from another country. Schools need to start working more closely with parents so that they can become more involved in their children’s learning. One suggestion we have is that GOB needs to implement a National Board of Teachers at a high level within Education Systems. They can study our Education system closely and make needed changes to make the system work for our students, and for the country. We have the mental capacity in our current structure to do it. Our educators are on the front line and are dealing with each student and with many difficult issues on a daily basis; they, more than anyone else, know exactly what needs to change. There needs to be more frequent meetings for our educators to be able to share and discuss issues, ideas, new methodologies and such to improve each other. We need to stop letting other nations set our Education system for us. We are no longer a colonial territory, but are our own nation with our own needs.
We invite each and everyone of you to read each Guidance Counseling article and participate actively in discussions on them. It is only through community participation that we can truly see where the issues are, and then work to solve them.
We know many of you have a Facebook account ,and we have setup a specific Facebook group to discuss specif Education issues, i.e. what’s needed to reform our Education system in Belize. Thank you for joining us to aid in getting this change on the road: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BzERP/