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No More Common Entrance Exams

By Reginald Andrew

Elementary school students here may have sat their final Common Entrance Examinations yesterday, as education authorities say they will replace this exercise with a certification program.

According to the authorities, for the new academic year, the Common Entrance exams will be replaced by Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA). Training has begun for teachers to comprehend the CPEA initiative, and this programme will be in effect over the next two years.

Chief Education Officer, Dr. Fiona Phillip Mayer said, the students were pleasantly pleased to have returned to regular school routine and “for the most part love being back at school.” More than 2,000 students sat yesterday’s Common Entrance exams.

Dr. Mayer urged parents to be kind and considerate to the students and to support them in their endeavaours.

“Do not put undue pressure on them, really enjoy the moment with them, applaud their efforts, appreciate their skills and wish them well as they move into the final days,” she said.

The Chief Education Officer added, “We are part of the Universal Secondary Education programme and so every one of our children gets the opportunity …and we wish that whatever secondary school that they attend they are pleased with it.”

Commenting on the CPEA program, Dr. Mayer stated, “It’s another opportunity for us to look at different skills and not only the traditional Common Entrance.”

She noted that parents can get more information about the CPEA through the Ministry of Education’s online site “and similarly, we are providing parent meetings to give our parents more information in an intimate and small group setting.”

Ministers Rigobert and King breaking ground

Meanwhile, government officials recently broke ground for the construction of a new school block at the Vide Bouteille Combined School.

The block will consist of three levels, with the third and second levels each housing five classrooms with accompanying male and female washroom facilities; while the ground floor will serve as an open breezeway with general bathroom facilities.

Parliamentary Representative for Castries North Stephenson King, in whose constituency the school is located, says he has advocated for the school’s upgrade for many years, and thinks the new wing to be constructed will add quality to the instruction received by students. He said this upgrade will help boost the students’ abilities for higher education at secondary schools of their choice.

“I believe we are on the home stretch to the finish line to ensure those who are here now … and who are participating in this exercise can associate themselves with a vision for education in this country,” King declared.

He asserted that this venture can help to provide: “A determination for better education, better school facilities and the fulfillment of an education institution that can continue to participate in one of the more, if not the most successful education district on the island by having the cream of the crop in secondary education and cream of the crop in primary education.”

Ministry officials report that last week’s sod turning ceremony follows on the heels of another conducted over a week ago for the construction of the La Guerre Primary School.

Education Minister Dr. Gale Riogobert says the Ministry is actively pursuing the overall transformation of the nation’s education sector, in order to make those who benefit from it more globally competitive.

“While many important determinants of effective learning are beyond the systemic control, it is imperative that we collectively optimize the effects that we can control,” she stated. “ One undervalued, yet key determinant, in fostering student achievement in the physical leaning environment or the quality of the school plants,  which impacts on the student moral and teacher commitment.”

The project also provides enhanced parking facilities for staff and visitors, upgraded water storage capacity and an improved sewerage solution for the entire school.

The contract for the unit’s construction has been awarded to Construction Industrial Equipment Ltd. (CIE) at a cost of EC$4.5 million.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told students gathered at the ceremony to embrace their weaknesses in order to overcome them and excel in their education like many before them.

“You must embrace failure. You must embrace an idea and believe in it, until somebody proves to you that it is not true. But now your power of knowledge becomes greater because you’ve learnt firsthand. This is what this smart school is all about,” he said.

In the meantime, reports state that government will break ground for the construction of a new unit at the Gordon and Walcott Methodist School, this Thursday.

The contract has been awarded to Prudy’s Construction Services Ltd., at a cost of EC$6.5 million.

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