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Information Technology a must, says Professor Harris

Information Technology a must, says Professor Harris

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If the Caribbean is to become globally competitive, all secondary school students should be doing Information Technology.{{more}}

This is the view of Professor Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and Chairman of CXC.

Last Saturday, at the meeting of CXC’s Final Awards Committee for the January sitting of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate(CSEC) examinations, Harris expressed concern that of the close to 30, 000 candidates taking CSEC examinations in January, only 800 candidates wrote Information Technology.

He is of the view that for such an important subject, the number of candidates taking Information Technology is very low.

Using basketball terminology, the CXC Chairman stated “we need to declare a full-court press on IT.”

He said the Council needs to tackle the issue of IT on all fronts, including working with Ministries of Education in the region to identify all means of resolving issues associated with the subject.

In reporting on the performance in IT, each year, the Examining Committee has continually cited the reoccurring challenge of weak performance on the areas of the examination dealing with Problem Solving and Programming and Database Management.

The Measurement and Evaluation Officer, who presented the subject report to the Final Awards Committee, explained that part of the challenge is finding people with the requisite IT skills to teach in schools. He added that persons with such skills find more lucrative jobs in the private sector.

Harris suggested that Ministries of Education identify skilled people in those areas who can go into the schools and teach those areas.

Lornette Queeley-Connor, St Kitts and Nevis representative on the Final Awards Committee, reported that the Ministry of Education there is doing just that. Queeley-Connor said the Ministry uses IT professionals from the private sector to teach the subject in the Federation’s schools and this has been working well so far.

Until 2009, Information Technology was offered at both General and Technical Proficiencies; however, as of May/June 2010, it is only offered at General Proficiency.

Of the 800 candidates who wrote the examination in January, only 31.6 percent achieved acceptable grades, Grades I – III.

The Examining Committee expressed the view that “a significant number of candidates who would have entered for the Technical Proficiency in previous years took this examination, but were not sufficiently well prepared for the demands of certain sections of the syllabus, including Problem Solving and Programming, and Database Management.”

Once again, the committee went on to state that “these were the areas where performance was poor in both Papers, 01 and 02.”

IT has grown from the first time it was offered 21 years ago, with less than 1,000 candidates writing in it in May/June 1990 to 21, 416 candidates who wrote it at the May/June sitting in 2010.