Universal Secondary Education
A New Dawn for Education in Saint Lucia
by Hon. Mario Michel
The following statement was delivered to the Parliament of Saint Lucia by Hon Mario Michel, Minister for Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports on Tuesday, August 29, 2006, to coincide with the opening of the New School Year 2006-2007.
Monday, September 4th, 2006 marks the official start of the 2006-2007 school year. On that day, all public, assisted and private primary and secondary schools in St. Lucia will open for the new academic year.
In the case of the primary schools, 86 public, assisted and private primary schools will commence classes on Monday, including seven (7) which are undergoing major rehabilitation at this time.
The Anglican Infant and Primary Schools are both undergoing major rehabilitation works, which will not be completed by Monday, but which will be brought to a sufficient state of completion to allow school to commence on September 4th and to continue uninterrupted.
The Babonnecu Primary School is also undergoing fairly substantial rehabilitation, which will still be ongoing come next Monday, but again will not prevent school from opening then and continuing uninterrupted.
The Ti Rocher Combined School in Castries, which is being substantially rebuilt, will not be completed by Monday, September 4th, but classes will commence on that day and the contractors will peacefully coexist with the students for some weeks yet.
The Marchand Combined School is undergoing extensive repair, rehabilitation and refurbishment, work on which will not be completed by Monday September 4th, but classes will commence on that day and the children will continue in the makeshift arrangements in which they ended the last school year until the building works are completed in the next few weeks.
A new block under construction at the Fond Assau Combined School in Babonneau will not be completed by Monday September 4th, but school will commence and classes will go on in the remainder of the school.
Work on the virtual rebuilding of the Fond St. Jacques Primary School in the Soufriere area will continue until around November this year, but school will open on Monday September 4th and classes will continue undisturbed on the compound of the Fond St. Jacques Infant School, which school will be disestablished after the work on the primary school is completed and all the students move to the new school plant.
Of course, all of the other 79 primary schools should open on Monday free of any complications caused by ongoing repairs.
In the secondary school sector, not only will Monday September 4th mark the formal opening of all 25 public, assisted and private secondary schools in St. Lucia, but it will also mark the formal inauguration of Universal Secondary Education in St. Lucia, with all of the 4,301 children who wrote the Common Entrance Exam this year being offered places at secondary schools in St. Lucia -- a far cry from the situation just 10 years ago when only 40% of the children writing the Common Entrance Exam were offered places at secondary schools.
Among the 25 public, assisted and private secondary schools which will commence classes on Monday, 20 of them existed previously, while 5 of them are new.
The Vieux Fort Technical Secondary School will operate from the premises formerly occupied by the Vieux Fort Technical Institute -- - an educational institution constructed in 2003 and operationalized initially as a senior primary school, which school was dis-established on August l this year, to make way for the operation as of September 4th of a three stream five form secondary school offering a course of secondary education with a technical/vocational bias.
The Grande Riviere Secondary School in Dennery will operate in the expanded and refurbished space formerly occupied by the Grande Riviere Senior Primary School which was dis-established as of August l, 2006. Although construction work on a new three-storey block will continue after Monday September the school is sufficiently completed to allow for the commencement of classes there on Monday, with 8 Form 1s, 1 Form 2 and 3 Form 3s starting off the new secondary school.
The Gros Islet Secondary School is a new school under construction at Massade in Gros Islet, which is expected to be completed by December 15th this year, but with the school commencing operation on Monday September 4th at the premises of the now-dis-established Rock Hall Senior Primary School, 9 Form is, 1 Form 2 and 3 Form 3s will start off the new secondary school and will move into their spanking new state-of-the-art education complex in Massade at the start of the second term on Wednesday, January 3rd 2007.
The Marigot Secondary School is also a new school under construction, which is expected to be completed by December 3rd this year, but with the school commencing operation on Monday September 4th at the compound of the Roseau Primary School in Jacmel, a short distance away from the site of the new secondary school. Like in the case of the Gros Islet Secondary School, 9 From is, 1 Form 2 and 3 Form 3s will start off the new secondary school and will move into their new state-of-the-art education complex at the start of the second term on Wednesday January 3rd 2007. The last of the five (5) new secondary schools, the International School of St. Lucia, is a small private secondary school located at Rodney Bay in Gros Islet, which is expected to commence operations on Monday September 4th with a small contingent of about 25 students. The school will be a fee-paying private school which will accommodate mainly the children of non nationals working in St. Lucia.
With the establishment and operationalization of these five (5) new secondary schools in St. Lucia, along with the expansion of another three (3), secondary school capacity in St. Lucia has now reached nearly 17,000 and has brought us to the stage of Universal Secondary Education.
It is to be noted, however, that although every child writing the Common Entrance Exam this year was offered a place in secondary school, not every child is taking the place offered, because some parents declined the places offered and opted to have their children repeat Grade 6 at primary school in order to better prepare the children for secondary school next year, or to enable them to gain a place at a preferred secondary school. This is a right of parents which we decided to preserve for the time being, even in the era of Universal Secondary Education.
About 200 children will be repeating Grade 6 at primary school this year. Note though that they will not be going to Grade 7 or Standard 5. Rather, they will be repeating Grade 6. In fact, Grades 7 and 8 (or Standards 5 and 6 as they are also called) will cease to exist at primary schools as of this year.
Also to be noted is the fact that, apart from the 25 secondary schools which will be operated in St. Lucia as of Monday, there will also be in existence the two private post-primary institutions, namely, the Centre for Adolescent Rehabilitation and Education (C.A.R.E.) and the Girls Vocational School (GVS).
There will also be operated in the course of the next school year, seven (7) public post-primary learning centres. These centres will accommodate the students leaving Standard VI at the various primary schools who did not gain entry into a secondary school via the Sixth Standard Exam, who did not go into C.A.R.E. or GVS, and who are still within the compulsory school age. The centres will also accommodate the students who would have been going to Forms 2 and 3 of the former senior primary schools and who did not gain entry into a secondary school via the Sixth Standard Exam or the Special Exam.
The Centres will operate in the following locations:
A total of about 400 students are expected to be accommodated at these seven (7) centres some for one year and some for up to two years. Of course, the centres will cease to exist by July 2008 since the attainment of Universal Secondary Education this year means that there will no longer be any Standard Six or senior primary students to fill them, because all students sitting the Common Entrance Exam are now guaranteed places in secondary schools.
Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the performance of St. Lucian students in external examinations this year, all 20 existing secondary schools entered students for the 2006 CXC Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examination.
The overall pass rate for all secondary schools students at the General and Technical Proficiency Level this year was 65.89%, with four (4) schools attaining pass rates above 80% St. Joseph’s Convent recorded another phenomenal pass rate this year of 96.71%, followed by St. Mary’s College with a pass rate of 90.63%, followed by the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School with a pass rate of 86.67% and the Leon Hess Comprehensive School with a pass rate of 82.84%, with the fifth ranked school this year at CXC being the Choiseul Secondary School with an overall pass rate of 75.26%.
The other schools which obtained pass rates above are the Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School with a pass rate of 73.49%, the SDA Academy with a pass rate of 71.81%, the Corinth Secondary School with a pass rate of 67.81%, the Soufriere Comprehensive School with a pass rate of 61.6%, the Entrepot and Babonneau Secondary Schools with a pass rate of 59%, the Clendon Mason Memorial Secondary School with a pass rate of 56.19%, the Sir Ira Simmons Secondary School with a pass rate of 51.95% and the Micoud Secondary School with an overall pass rate of 5O.37%.
In terms of the Cambridge ‘A’ Level Examinations taken by students attending the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and the Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School, the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College recorded an overall pass rate of 8O.41% this year, while the Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School recorded a pass rate of 83.14%.
This, it is to be noted, is the best-ever performance by the Vieux Fort Comprehensive in Cambridge ‘A’ Level Examinations, while the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College has bettered their performance this year only once in the last five years, when in 2003 they recorded on overall pass rate of 81.3%.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I want to wish all of our students and teachers a successful 2006-2007 academic year as we venture into the new dawn of Universal Secondary Education in St. Lucia.
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