Regional

Hanover educators slam Samuda over 'something is wrong in Hanover' comment

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer West writer

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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LUCEA, Hanover — A number of Hanover educators have blasted minister with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information Karl Samuda for publicly decrying the poor performance of the parish's schools in the core subject areas of English and mathematics in the 2018 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

He said the average pass grade for English in the parish was 54 per cent, while for mathematics it was 22 per cent.

“So, right away, this sends off a signal to the [education] ministry, and to the team in Hanover, that there is something wrong in Hanover. There is something wrong in Hanover [and], it has to be corrected because we are not leaving one child behind,” the acting education minister stressed.

“The acting chief education officer [Dr Grace McLean] will tell you that I am a data man, and I assess things on the basis of out-turn. Don't tell me how much money you are saving, and don't tell me how much money you are spending. Tell me what is your final bottom line in terms of your achievements, and I want to be able to measure the achievements against the effort that is put in, he contniued.

Samuda was addressing a Ministry of Education Region Four consultation meeting at the West Jamaica Conference Centre in St James recently.

Region Four encompasses the parishes of St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.

A further look at the data provided by Samuda has shown that in the parish of Westmoreland, the average pass grade for mathematics was 58 per cent, while for English it was 72 per cent.

St James was the best performing parish in the region with mathematics at 66 per cent and English at 84 per cent.

However, vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (JAPSS), Linvern Wright, who is also the principal of the Rusea's High School, described the acting minister's comment as “a naive statement without knowledge of the education system”.

“When the minister speaks like that, in my mind, he is not speaking out of knowledge of the education system, and what is happening. I find it to be a naive statement. It is naive because if he looked at the background, he would understand that there are things that need to be done,” Wright argued.

“Government needs to fix transportation; government needs to do better in terms of establishing some quality schools in Hanover. Government needs to do better in terms of providing housing so that teachers can have somewhere to live in Hanover. It is difficult getting teachers here,” Wright said, adding “so, those are issues that we would have to fix before...”

Principal of Mount Hannah Primary School, also in Hanover, Nicholas James, expressed similar sentiments.

“Based on my experience over the years and based on the statistics that I have, based on the results, Rusea's is the only high school in the parish that takes the high achievers. Those students that score in their 60s, 50s and so on (in Grade Six Achievement Test), they find themselves in the other five non-traditional schools in the parish,” James argued.

“My high achievers last year in GSAT — about six students — all of those that got 80s (per cent) and up, they went into Herbert Morrison and Mount Alvernia (both in St James). And, those were my high achievers. I got one boy from that batch for Rusea's, but those who scored in the 60s and down, they went into the Hanover high schools. So, those children who St James is boasting about are actually students coming from Hanover primary schools.”

Added James: “Hanover is really somewhat at a disadvantage. I think these factors need to be taken into consideration before Hanover start getting bash. Before you bash Hanover, look at the variables. Look at the issues that are happening in the parish, in the high schools and so on.”

Principal of the Green Island Primary School in Hanover, Vaccianna Moseley, noted that of the top 20 performers at his school this year, more than 75 per cent will be going to high schools outside of the parish.

“Because Hanover only has one traditional (high school) school, what is left is our average and below average students. All our bright stars are gone to Westmoreland to make Westmoreland looks good as well as to St James, Trelawny and St Elizabeth,” said Moseley.


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