Top student against cap on CXC subjects

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By Bibi Khatoon

Thirty-five subjects were offered at this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination and Guyana’s top performer, Michael Bhopaul wrote 24 of those subjects among which is Agricultural Science –a double award.

He achieved 24 Grade ones and one Grade two, but his choice has once again fueled the debate on the number of subjects which should be written by students at CSEC.

It was reported in the media that the Education Ministry is looking to debar students of the senior secondary school from writing no more than 10 subjects, while students from junior secondary schools would write no more than six subjects. This was communicated to public secondary schools via a memorandum recently sent to Head Teachers.

However, this years’ top student, Bhopaul believes that candidates “should be allowed to write as many subjects as they want to, provided that they can.”

He added that, “they shouldn’t be forced into doing it or they shouldn’t push themselves into doing it, knowing that they would falter along the way and so on. It’s not something to be done by everyone, it’s to be done by those who can cope with it.”

The high achiever also emphasized that other students should not feel pressured now to go beyond his achievement.

“They shouldn’t let the success of others define their success, they shouldn’t feel a particular way because they didn’t achieve this much. They should have their goals in life, they should look at life holistically and they should work towards those goals and just disregard what others think and the limits that they place on them,” he told News Room.

Bhopaul wrote 24 subjects, some of which were English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Human and Social Biology, Integrated- Science, Agriculture Science, Principles of Accounts (POA), Principles of Business (POB), Economics, Office Administration, Electronic Document Preparation and Management (EDPM), Information Technology, Social-Studies, Geography, Caribbean History, Technical Drawing, Industrial/Building Technology, Food and Nutrition and Home-Economics Management.

No Limit

Meanwhile, at a press conference on Tuesday, Chief Education Officer (CEO), Marcel Hutson sought to dispel claims that the Ministry is looking to put a cap on CSEC subjects. He explained that the memorandum was never meant to limit the students.

“What the memorandum/circular really has focused on is to get our children to matriculate. We do not want to spread ourselves thin at the expense of not passing the subjects that will cause you to matriculate. For e.g. in Barbados, the maximum amount of subjects that a child can write is eight subjects, in Antigua and St Lucia, sometimes it takes two years to do five subjects, but at the end of the day, all the children in that nation who write the examination, the idea is to get them to matriculate, to pass,” the CEO said.

Hutson said that in Junior Secondary Schools, writing a large number of subjects can affect a child’s performance. Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry told media operatives that “from a qualitative perspective, we recognize that in order for us to be able to really get our students to matriculate—that is what CXC focuses on more or less—the number of subjects though it can get you some attention, it’s not our primary focus.”

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