Four hundred and five students will receive certificates of excellence next Thursday, November 23, rewarding their performance in the 2006 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations. But the award for the most outstanding candidate will go to a 16-year-old youth of St. John’s College Junior College, Ian Lizarraga, who attained 10 Grade I passes and 2 Grade II passes, all at the general proficiency level.
Placing second is 18-year-old Aimee Flores, another student of SJCJC, who sat the exams while she was attending St. Catherine Academy.
The Annual CXC National Award Ceremony will also recognize 232 students with certificates of achievement, 4 with subject group awards and 32 with individual subjects awards.
Lisa Chang and Danny Cheng, both of Stann Creek Ecumenical High School, will receive the national subject group awards for business and vocational studies, respectively, the Ministry informed.
Ian Lizarraga, the overall top finisher in Belize, successfully sat Biology, English A, English B (Literature), Human and Social Biology, Integrated Science, Mathematics, Physics, Religious Education, Social Studies, Spanish, Caribbean History and Chemistry and got Grade One in all except the last two, for which he received Grade Two.
Flores attained 10 Grade I passes at the general and technical proficiency levels in Biology, Chemistry, English A, English B (Literature), Human and Social Biology, Information Technology, Mathematics, Physics, Social Studies and Spanish. She will be rewarded next week as “Most Outstanding Student.”
Lizarraga told us that he heard the news while listening to the radio on Wednesday.
“When I heard it, I was honored. I was just so excited! I didn’t know that I would get it, but I managed it, so I am very happy,” he told Amandala today.
“It was easy to do 12. You set your goal and go for it,” Ian said matter-of-factly.
Before him, three of his siblings had placed top in the Caribbean examinations, which was the CXC until 2001.
His sister, Ingrid, now a doctor, excelled in the early 90’s, and after her, Victor, Jr., also a doctor, and Christie, an IT programmer.
Ian Lizarraga said that he had heard of winners passing 11, 12 or even 13, and he decided to try.
“It was always my aim to be the best at something,” he said, and while he had placed 5thin the Primary School Examination (PSE) while attending the Belize Elementary School, he managed to finish first in this exam.
It wasn’t a lot of hard work to attain the top rank, but the fruits of the consistent efforts he has made over the years, he said.
“People usually expect that you tear your hair out trying to study, but it’s a long process. You have to do it throughout the years and it’s very manageable,” he further remarked.
He claimed that he did not use any specific strategy to succeed:
“The only thing I would recommend is listening in class and taking down notes. You can memorize for yourself, not just for the test,” he suggested.
He has no clue what he wants to be when he grows up, but right now he is studying Physics and Math and sees engineering as one of many options he could choose from down the road.
Ian is the son of Dr. Victor Lizarraga and his wife, Nuri, the two people who Ian said have been his biggest supporters and motivators. He also made special mention of Darlene Peters, his physics teacher at SJC high school who, he said, pushed him very hard and gave extra help when he needed it.
The second place winner, Aimee, another science major, found out that she had gotten top honors from her grandmother, who had heard the news on the radio and called to relay it to her.
“I was a bit surprised,” said Aimee. “I wasn’t really expecting anything. I went in and did my best.”
She said that in order to prepare for the exams she reviewed her work thoroughly. She did Social Studies as independent study, and took a couple months with her teacher to prepare.
Aimee attended Holy Redeemer Primary School and is now attending SJCJC, where she is taking Biology and Chemistry.
She said that she would probably use her training in pursuing stem cell research.
“It seems interesting and promising,” she elaborated, adding that she is interested in finding cures for diseases.
The Ministry of Education and the CXC National Committee announced on Wednesday that Lizarraga and Flores had topped the May/June 2006 CSEC examinations.
“A total of 2,737 candidates registered in Belize for the May/June 2006 CSEC examinations with a total of 15,350 subject entries as compared to 2,598 candidates in 2005 and 13,792 subject entries,” said a Ministry of Education release.
Ministry officials also noted improved performance in English A and Mathematics (General Proficiency).
“With 64.6% of candidates for English A and 55% for Mathematics achieving Grades I to III, the country’s average is above the overall average of the Caribbean,” the release went on to say.
However, it lamented a decline in performance in Literature (English B) with passes (Grades I to III) falling dramatically from 63.22% to 29.9%.
“The CXC National Committee of Belize and the Belize Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (BAPSS) have requested CXC to review the English B examinations with a view to determine the reason(s) for the poor performance of students in this subject in the May/June 2006 sitting as compared to previous years, considering that the entire region experienced a similar sharp decline,” the Ministry appealed.
The CXC’s regional office issued a release on September 25, 2006, indicating that Miss Shirvanie Persaud, a student of Queen’s College Guyana, was “the most outstanding student overall” in this year’s CSEC. She sat 13 subjects and achieved Grade I in 12 subjects and Grade II in one.
Another student of the same college was recognized as the most outstanding science student with Grade I in 11 subjects and Grade II in one.
A student of Belize will receive a regional award from the CXC office at the end of the month.
“The prize for the most outstanding performance in visual arts, two-dimensional work, went to Mr. Jia Wu of St John’s College, Belize,” said the CXC office. “Mr. Wu’s piece is based on a question in the drawing option. The design represents a bunch of coconuts arranged on coconut leaves.”
Wu and other regional awardees will receive a cash prize and a plaque from CXC, a dictionary with CD ROM from Longman Publishers and a scholarship from the University of the West Indies, said the CXC release.
“The scholarships [for regional winners] include full tuition if the recipient elects to take up the award based on CSEC results. However, if the recipient has been accepted under normal matriculation requirements, he/she shall be eligible for full tuition, maintenance and other costs,” it adds.
Wu is supposed to receive his award at the CXC’s annual Council Meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines on November 30, 2006.
This is the third time that Belize has won a regional award, the first being in 1999, said the Belize Ministry of Education.
The Ministry has also announced top finishers for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), which junior college students sit at the end of their two-year training.
Two students of Corozal Junior College (CJC) and two students of Ecumenical Junior College (EJC) will be honored with certificates of recognition for having attained at least five grades I – III passes within two years of initial enrollment at their college.
Twenty percent more candidates sat the CAPE this year than did last year—152 candidates this year compared to 121 in 2005, according to the Ministry.
“It is encouraging that the number of subject entries for which grades I – V were achieved increased from 36% to 79.2%,” said the Ministry. “CAPE grades I to V are considered satisfactory grades, according to the CXC grading scheme.”
According to the regional CXC office, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago students dominated the 1stCAPE regional awards.
Jansen Seheult of Naparima College in Trinidad and Tobago was recognized for the most outstanding performance. He achieved Grade I in 8 subjects and also won the award for most outstanding performance in natural science.
Four other students from Trinidad and Tobago won top awards, while Barbados students won top honors in business studies, technical studies and computer science.
These students will also receive their regional awards on November 30.
CSEC Grading Scheme
I: Candidate shows a comprehensive grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.
II: Candidate shows a good grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.
III: Candidate shows a fairly good grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and abilities required by the syllabus.
IV: Candidate shows a moderate grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.
V: Candidate shows a limited grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.
VI: Candidate shows a very limited grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.
CAPE Grading Scheme
The following are the official interpretations to be applied to the CAPE grades.
I: represents an excellent performance.
II: represents a very good standard of performance
III: represents a good standard of performance
IV: represents a satisfactory standard of performance
V: represents an acceptable level of performance
VI: represents weak performance
VII: represents unsatisfactory performance