Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, stressed that there would have to be consultation with all stakeholders before any alternative to the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Exam could be decided upon. (GP)

The Common Entrance Examination has outlived its usefulness.

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, said that report after report has pointed to this position. 

However, she emphasised that there would have to be consultation with all stakeholders before any alternative could be decided upon.

Speaking during a press briefing on Tuesday to announce the results of the 2020 Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, Ms. Bradshaw noted the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted plans to have public discourse on the future of the annual examination.

“I think you would appreciate that over the course of the past few months, we would’ve had interventions with regards to COVID-19 and we were not able to meet with the public as we would’ve wanted to have full discourse and discussion on the Common Entrance Exam. That doesn’t mean that the discussions have not been ongoing and there have been meetings with the Education Reform Committee and various stakeholders that have started to examine the current model and the current syllabus but also to chart the way forward for education reform – not just for the 11-Plus but of a general educational system and approach to education in Barbados,” she explained.

The Education Minister said that while all of the reports and commissions on the Common Entrance Exam pointed to the problems associated with it, few offered solutions.

She underscored that the focus of consultations with stakeholders would not be about the fact that it was no longer effective or to “bash” the exam.

Instead, she said it would be to find a solution which allowed children who were exceptional to have a place in society, as well as those who were “exceptional in a different way”.

“We have to, as a Ministry, work with our various stakeholders to find that common ground that works for everyone and we really have started the ball rolling in terms of those discussions. So, we anticipate that over the course of the next few weeks and months, providing that COVID-19 does not have another wave in Barbados, that those discussions on the future of the 11-Plus will be able to materialise in a forum that is conducive to us holding wider public consultations,” Ms. Bradshaw stated.

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