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CAPE math: Are the authorities doing an injustice to our students?

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Fri, Nov 16, 2012

Editor: The discussion continues on the unsatisfactory mathematics performance of the students in our country. This year we are generally disappointed with the CSEC math results nationally. I wish to broaden the discussion to focus on Cape mathematics, which is taught at the Division of Arts, Sciences and General Studies at the SVG Community College.{{more}}

When I was a lecturer at the Community College, the other math lecturers and I were engaged in discussion on the pivotal role that a pass at Additional Mathematics will play in enhancing our students’ performance in Cape mathematics units 1 and 2. A careful look at the CSEC math requirements and that of Cape math unit 1 shows that there is a serious disconnect in syllabus material. The level of reasoning and independent study and practice that is needed to master the Unit 1 concepts is out of the reach of a number of students, even those who got a grade 1 pass at CSEC level. There are seven hours of math per week in Lower Six, which is twice as much as students were exposed to in their secondary school lives. Many students find the transition to the Cape level very difficult and drop the subject in Lower Six.

What have the authorities been doing to arrest the problem? Why have they not included the option of students taking Additional Math and passing it as a prerequisite for entry into the Cape math program at the College? Take Trinidad and Tobago as an example. I have spoken to teachers in that twin island republic who have been teaching and preparing students to write CSEC math while at the 4th form level in some secondary schools while preparing the same students to write Additional Math at the 5th form level. Still in other secondary schools, both CSEC and Additional Math are taught at the 4th and 5th form levels simultaneously with students writing both subjects at the 5th form level. Students who intend to write Cape math in Trinidad and Tobago must write and pass both CSEC and Additional Math. When one scrutinizes the Additional Math syllabus and realizes that it covers around 40 per cent of the Cape Unit 1 syllabus, we see why the Trinidadian students excel at the Cape unit 1 and 2 math examinations.

ARE THE AUTHORITIES NOT DOING AN INJUSTICE TO THE STUDENTS IN SVG BY NOT INCLUDING THE TEACHING OF ADDITIONAL MATH AT SOME SECONDARY SCHOOLS AND/OR AT THE COLLEGE?

I suggest that if we want to nurture a more confident group of professionals in math and related fields that we start by including Additional Math as one of the offerings for the next academic year.

ELVIS DANIEL

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