By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
ONLY 46 percent of students who leave high school qualify for a diploma, Education Minister Jeff Lloyd revealed yesterday during his budget contribution in the House of Assembly.
Noting the country’s commitment to achieving an 85 percent graduate rate by 2030, Mr Lloyd regretted the current percentage, saying the “standards are as low as we can make them”.
With 70 percent of school leavers entering the workforce, Mr Lloyd underscored the importance of students meeting the requirements for graduation and the need for more parental oversight in this matter.
He also addressed the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) statistics, noting that out of 6,720 candidates, only 76 received ‘A’ grades in five or more subjects. Seventeen scored an ‘A’ in eight or more subjects.
He said 80 percent of the grades awarded ranged from ‘A-E’, with the highest percentage of grades awarded being a ‘C’.
“I speak now, Mr Speaker, of an area which is causing a little bit of consternation in our Bahamian society, it’s called the Bahamas high school diploma,” Mr Lloyd said.
“Since 2017, the criteria for graduation has been standardised across this country. And we want it to be standardised so that we can ensure that there are quality graduates that enter society. This country is committed that by 2030, 85 percent of those leaving the 12th grade will meet the minimum graduation standard.
“By 2030, in approximately 10 years, Mr Speaker, the commitment of this country, in concert with the Organisation of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank and so on, is that we make it to 85 percent.
“Today, Mr Speaker, only 46 percent of our 12th graders leaving high school graduate—46 percent, less than half.”
Mr Lloyd noted there are eight criteria which must be met to graduate. These include passing four Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) examinations - receiving a minimum grade of a ‘D’ in math, English, health or general science and social studies or religion.
Other criteria include a specific number of credits, annual parent-teacher conferences, and a certain grade point average.
“The data shows, Mr Speaker, that these four BJC’s is the most challenging. A lot of students are not meeting it. And the second most challenging is the number of credits that they need.
“Now let’s be straight up, Mr Speaker. Our students must graduate from high school. You need to have a high school diploma. Not a certificate of attendance. We don’t need a ‘BTS’ certificate: ‘been to school’. You need a diploma.”
Mr Lloyd also said there is a trend of many parents waiting until their student is in the 12th grade to “petition” the ministry for “some concessions (to) what we consider the minimum standard”.
“Students begin in grade 8 to prepare for their BJCs. My God, grade 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 – five years to pass four subjects. BJCs. And what do BJCs test, Mr Speaker? The minimum standards.
“And why is this important? Every year, thousands of our students leave high school. Five, six thousand or thereabouts. What we now know statistically is that 70 percent of them go into the world of work. Thirty percent go onto tertiary education, approximately.
“What is it that an employer expects when he or she receives a graduate? That they will be able to function, make meaningful contributions in this very fast developing global society. As far as we are concerned, the standards as low as we can make them.
“Parents must become involved. They must work with their children, and not wait for the last minute to deal with this.”
Regarding BGCSEs, Mr Lloyd said the objective is that 80 percent of students should receive grades between ‘A-G’. “Well, we did have 76 candidates who received grade ‘A’ in five or more subjects. 76, out of the 6,000. And 17 out of the 76 scored ‘A’ in eight or more subjects.”
“The Bahamas is not the world,” Mr Lloyd added. “We cannot educate citizens only for this parochial setting. They must be equipped to engage competitively, robustly, prosperously, profitably, and successfully, the universe around them. It doesn’t get any more basic than that.”