The Caribbean Examination Council recently announced that over 11,000 pupils across the region who wrote the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Exam (formerly O’levels) last May/June got no passes. The Caribbean Mentorship Institute has also raised concern on this alarming disclosure.
The institute which advocates and conducts research on Caribbean youths has observed an increasing trend of high school dropouts among male students as well. Ms. Felicia Dujon, the Director adds that “ though the figures are alarmingly high- we must consider that each fail grade is a young person who is failing academically. This raises serious concerns for the development of young persons in our region. The question remains whether we are making the impacts that are necessary for their growth and development. Are our curriculums preparing our students for future development? What alternative forms of education can these young persons have access to which will enable them to succeed economically and as contributing citizens. Too many of our young males are high-school drops out, and it is more alarming when it is occurring at the primary school level.
The Institute advises government and education officials to include vocational and mentoring programs in schools which will assist young men and women to have the additional support which is needed for their academic development. They observe that failing grades can contribute to low esteem and deviant behaviours if not addressed effectively. The Institute adds that according to research, Dr. Robert S. Byrd, an Associate Professor of Clinical Paediatrics, Division of General Paediatrics, University of California at Davis, Sacramento, California notes that failure in school can have lifelong consequences. The causes of school failure are myriad and often multiple within individual students who are struggling academically. Social, behavioural, and emotional problems frequently lead to academic difficulties. Health conditions also can impair academic performance. One in five children who repeats a grade in school has some identifiable disability. Irrespective of its cause, school failure is associated with adverse health outcomes. Children who fail in school are more likely to engage in subsequent health-impairing behaviours as adolescents. Failing students also are more likely to drop out of school. Adults who have no high school education often face limited economic opportunities, but they also are more likely to engage in health-impairing behaviours, to experience poor health, and to die at a younger age. Comprehensive approaches to evaluation and intervention may improve outcomes, and health care practitioners should play a vital role in these assessments. Moreover, clinicians can make a significant difference in outcomes by helping families identify the causes of failure and advocate for the resources to alter a child’s downward academic trajectory, preventing further compromise of a child’s health. Paediatric clinicians also should assess and intervene in risk behaviours of failing students. School readiness promotion and school failure prevention should be incorporated into routine health supervision visits.