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Misunderstanding causes uproar at ceremony to reward students

Misunderstanding causes uproar at ceremony to reward students

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by Crystal Bacchus

An uproar interrupted yesterday’s ceremony to reward students for their academic achievements at this year’s CSEC, CAPE and Associated Degree levels examinations.

When the 420 students who had gained five passes (Grades 1-3), including Maths and English, at the CSEC were about to receive their $500 cash reward, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Morine Williams began to give directions to the recipients about where to go to receive the cash award.

Williams asked former students of the Girls’ High School and the St Vincent Grammar School to proceed to stations labelled ‘Girls’ High School’ (GHS) and ‘St Vincent Grammar School’, while students from the remaining schools were grouped as one and were asked to proceed to the ‘Other Secondary Schools’ station.

“The first station here would be ‘Other Secondary Schools,’ so if the name of your school is not called, because we are trying to put the larger ones by themselves, you will go to this station (station labelled ‘Other Secondary Schools’). Girls’ High School, second station; Grammar School, third station; CAPE with surnames A-I. Next station the other CAPE, then we have the community college and then we have ‘Other Secondary Schools’,” Williams said.

Upon hearing that a separate station had been set up for the past students of the GHS and the Grammar School, recipients who then understood themselves to have been categorized as ‘Other Secondary Schools’ broke out in a loud uproar.

SEARCHLIGHT spoke with a few persons at the ‘Other Secondary Schools’ station, who were anxious to make their concerns heard.

They were in agreement in their disappointment about how the disbursement stations were categorized.

Felanna Antoine, former student of the St Joseph’s Convent said, “I am highly disappointed that we are at one table and GHS and Grammar School have their own tables. Are we categorized? They are saying we are ‘other schools’.”

Shaquanny Antoine interjected: “We want separate tables too, because we as children, are going to feel that their school is better than our school, and it’s the same money we are all getting, and all of us probably got the same grades. They are not better. Convent wants its own table, please!”

Williams, who had directed the students to the respective stations, told SEARCHLIGHT that the categorizing was done based on a numbering system directly from the CXC.

“We had one station at first and the students complained, so we simply looked at the numbers according to how the list comes to us from CXC. Remember it comes in centres, so that is a centre (pointing to the GHS station). Grammar School is a centre, Convent is a centre, but we don’t have enough workers to create a station for each [school]. We will have to empty the whole Ministry of Education to put a centre for Convent, a centre for…so all we are doing is by numbers.”

Some secondary schools had only one student receiving the reward, while others had very few.

When it was suggested to have one general list devoid of secondary school names, Williams asked how then would the Ministry account.

“How would we account for it? Everybody has to show their ID. That’s how it (the list) comes to us, by the centres. I think people just have to grow up,” a visibly upset Williams stated.

“But I said that on the mic, that it is because of the numbers,” she added.

In addition to the 420 students who received rewards for CSEC, 232 at the CAPE level qualified by gaining Grade I-V passes in at least two unit subjects, as well as in the single unit Communication Studies or Caribbean Studies in two consecutive years. Furthermore, 120 students were awarded from the Associate Degree levels: 15 from the Division of Arts, Sciences and General Studies, 47 from the Division of Technical and Vocational Education and 58 from the Division of Teacher Education. A total of $386 000 in cash was distributed.

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