Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones,??in converstion with students of Ellerslie Secondary School during a recent tour. (FP)

The 11-Plus exam will not make a child learn!

So says Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, who, earlier this week, spoke on expected changes in the educational system to media personnel.????

Responding to whether changes would come to the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE), familiarly known as the Common Entrance Examination/11-Plus, he said: "I am looking at changes to learning and education. Persons tend to focus on one narrow aspect – the 11-Plus. It is a transfer exam. The 11-Plus does not cause learning. Learning takes place as a result of what you do in your classrooms. [It is a result of] the quality of your teachers; your infrastructure; how you encourage students to learn; the kind of assessment modalities that you have implanted within the school and the kind of parental support.

"Those are what are important to learning. The 11-Plus?? comes as?? a consequence of a transfer to another stage and?? people become so fixated with the 11-Plus as though it makes you?? truly who you are. 11-Plus does not make us who we are. We make ourselves who we are by how we apply ourselves to aspects of learning and aspects of living," he declared.

Mr. Jones noted that his Ministry was working towards "pulling up the base" in the school system. "We don’t have to reduce the top. All we have to do is lift the base," the former teacher said, as he pointed out that such had been achieved this year.??

He maintained: "This is what we are trying to do with education in Barbados. This year, when the results in the [Common Entrance Examination] came back, people didn’t understand that we were lifting the base, by demanding of teachers [to] teach and try to work hard with all those who might have deficits without neglecting those who have the ability to move on as well.

"And, we saw a lifting of the base and I am looking [to find out whether] next year’s exam will continue to see a lifting of the base because of teachers teaching; students participating in learning and strong parental support."

??The Education Minister, however, explained that as Barbados moved through the transformation in education, though it was "on the right path" it might take between five and seven years to realise "the true reality of what we are trying to achieve".

Mr. Jones’ statements come as the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development readies itself, this month to stage a series of sessions across the island on the 11-Plus aimed at principals, teachers and parents.

The first two of these will be held on Saturday, December 3, at George Lamming Primary School in St. Michael and The A. DaCosta Edwards Primary School in St. Andrew, at 5:00 p.m. The following day, Sunday, December 4, the team will move to St. George Primary School, Glebe, St. George and Mount Tabor Primary School, Mount Tabor, St. John. ??Other meetings will follow in January 2012.

Education officials from the Ministry will among other things instruct parents on how to fill out the several forms used in the BSSEE, including those for choice of school, deferral and special requests.


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