“The National Test has morphed into another SEA exam… The original purpose seems to have been abandoned and primary school students (are now) forced to prepare as if it were another placement exam,” Garcia said in his contribution to the 2017 Budget debate. The tests are supposed to assess and track the performance of students, schools and districts, he said, and identify which areas need remedial action.
The postponement will give the ministry the opportunity to do a comprehensive review of the programme in order to return to the original moorings.
Regarding the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC), he said stakeholders felt it was burdensome on students, and so the Government felt it was time to remove this “albatross around their necks.” He added that from October 1, the Government has introduced a school improvement project called the “Laventille Initiative” identifying 20 primary and five secondary schools to ensure “safe, secure and pleasing to the eye,” and bring overall improvement in academic performance and successful completion rates.
The project will run for at least three years, during which time the ministry hopes to see tangible results, he said. “This will be a template for other schools with similar problems so they can also benefit,” Garcia said.
He added that the Government will soon announce national scholarships, and there will be a cap on the number offered to just 400. He also noted that along with the recommendations to the Government Assistance for Tertiary Education programme, the Government is considering introducing additional funding initiatives including energy saving bonds, and a national education saving fund, incentivising the private sector with tax breaks in order to contribute to higher education plans for employees, as well as fiscal incentives for insurance companies and credit unions for education saving products.