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Home Letters 70 at Compre spells trouble for rural kids

70 at Compre spells trouble for rural kids

A complement to the planned move is an interest to standardize. Most high schools in the country, they say, have 70% as their passing mark. As there is no real difference between Compre?s 50%, and 70% at other high schools, the Compre brain trust sees the only negative to the plan is that they will need to re-train staff in the new grading system. All this, on the surface, seems benign. Indeed, 70% does have a better sound to it than 50%.

Wait, there is more. Along with this new initiative (grade system change) the Compre brain trust has also floated it, that the ideal population for the school is 500 students. This is ehm?at least 350 less than the present enrollment.

Hold tight. The Compre brain trust has also floated it that they will need to increase tuition.

Are you following the math here, my friends? If you are going to reduce student population, you have to increase tuition! Of course you need know no math to figure out whom Compre will cull. Establishing 70% as the passing mark will give Compre the extra oomph, the justification it needs to turn away students who score in the 50?s and 60?s on PSE.

Because the education system isn?t ?equal,? rural kids traditionally score lower on the primary school leaving exams than city kids. But this does not mean that they are not as intelligent as city kids. Given the right environment, the serious kids from rural will catch up. And the not so serious kids will be functional citizens in this modern society if they are allowed to stay the course.

If Compre shuts the door in the faces of rural youths, they have nowhere to go. There are private high schools in the Cayo South catchment, but their fees are prohibitive, in some instances more than twice that of Compre?s.

I have no, zero interest in censuring the staff at Compre about their initiatives. Indeed, it is right and proper that they want to catch the most prepared, easiest to teach students in all Cayo South; improve teacher to student ratio; and be the school to score the most grade A?s on CXC in the entire land.

My interest is the Ministry of Education. Yes, I want to know what their intentions are. Has the MOE concluded that high school education for ALL Belizean children is utopian? I say, if that is so the Ministry of Education must check itself.

There are many, many Belizeans who through sheer genius and hard work, have achieved even though they didn?t complete high school. There isn?t one who will tell you he/she is glad they don?t have a high school education. This nation owes it to its children. In modern Belize a high school education is a must. The party that wins in 2008 must be the party that GUARANTEES a high school education for ALL our children. An if dehn have to rob from the rich to get it done, then dehn must du soh!


Colin Hyde

P.S. One teacher at Compre suggests that instead of ?trimming?, the school should double its enrollment. This could be done, he explains, by returning to the shift system. One set of students on the morning shift: 7am -12:30pm, and a second set of students for the afternoon shift: 1:00pm – 6:30pm. I endorse such a suggestion wholeheartedly, and immediately!

The MOE might balk at such a move, for financial reasons, but if we had the will that bridge would be easy to cross. Facilities? There would be no need for new expenditure here. Teachers? Across this land there are hundreds and hundreds of educated, experienced, nationalistic Belizeans in their mid-thirties to old, who would be eager to teach the afternoon sessions on a non-permanent basis, for a fraction of the cost. Books? Re-introduce the old Compre system of ?rental?, and supplement with low cost locally written books for the afternoon shift. Logistics? Yes, progress brings problems. But we know what to do with those. Just keep small minds away from the process and the ball will roll.

For such a move I would propose a name change. I would call the afternoon session the Belmopan Comprehensive School. And I would call the morning session: the Belmopan Elite Academy. I might seem facetious here, but there is always a grain of something to madness. Okay, we?ll do better on this last one.

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