Full Disclosure
August 29, 2008
Success in education

The excellent examination results of our students this year clearly prove that our nation’s attempt to revolutionize education is bearing good fruit. This is a great achievement, and one which must be continued. It is now countdown to Monday, September 1st, and our nation’s students are eagerly anticipating the reopening of school.{{more}} Added to the excitement is the thrill of having new books, book bags and uniforms, and the dream of going to a new class, or for some, a new school. But what is school really about? Why do I want to ensure that my daughter or son is well positioned to succeed in school?

The position articulated by the Hon. Prime Minister in his 2008 Budget Address answered these questions as follows:

The purpose of quality and accessible education is basically three-fold:

(1) To train critical minds in such a way as to educate the whole person to receive and transmit universal culture, including science and technology, but with a particularity resonant with, and grounded in, the ethos of our Caribbean civilization;

(2) To produce sufficiently skilled and trained persons in the requisite numbers to man and enhance, in the most satisfactory way, our productive apparatuses at home, and for employment in the overseas market of this increasingly globalised world; and

(3) To facilitate and foster the building of a many-sided, modern competitive post-colonial economy which is at once national and regional. In short, the education system must be linked appropriately with the manpower needs of the country.

Certainly, the important role that education plays in the development of any nation is beyond question. As our society constantly evolves, it impacts directly on the changes which must be made by all stakeholders in the education system. Simply, with the development of a comprehensive education policy, in order for there to be continued effective implementation, we must all be constant in our efforts at the wheels.

Our students are expected to play a critical role in the way forward. If our students are to ensure themselves of success they must begin from day one. The May – June period marks among other things, a period of careful testing of many students in local, regional and international exams, at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. However, it is important that you begin to work towards this period from the very beginning of the school term. I am convinced that most students fail to do well because of poor examination preparation techniques. Most students who are unsuccessful are usually traduced and castigated as being wayward, uncaring about their future, procrastinators and simply worthless. This is far from correct. There are many students who are well intended, who study for long hours and possess a great sense of pride in the prospects of achieving, but simply do not do well because of out dated modes of studying and researching techniques.

According to Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The level of preparation needed must be strategic, pointed and carefully executed. This quotation by Benjamin Franklin when taken to its logical conclusion shows that it is readily applicable to almost any given life situation. Simply put, if you do not prepare adequately, or choose not to get ready for the particular purpose or event which you should, the chances of being unsuccessful are greater, and consequently, the chances of achieving success would diminish.

Most of us can identify with such a process, as we have been at some point in our lives and perhaps still are students. I had the opportunity to interact closely with numerous 2008 Common Entrance Examinations students and the level of excitement and anticipation of their parents and families at times superseded their own, as issues of secondary school of preference is hammered into the young minds at school, home and play. The process was indeed intense and brought out adequate levels of preparation by the students and the real encouragement needed to do well.

Thanks to our present system of Universal Access to Education, more students are now given the opportunity to have access to education at a secondary level. Now that we have the opportunity, we must ensure that we do well in our exams. For the secondary and tertiary level students, most would have had their feet well accustomed to the classroom by experience garnered over the years; on the other hand, some have never been able to overcome the extreme levels of anxiety that can be induced when placed in an academic environment. Our students will be brave!

I was often told during my days as a student that, “The heights of great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they whilst their companions slept were upward toiling through the night.” I have been at school long enough to realize the truth in that statement, that only hard work would ensure success.

Preparation does not only involve a mere cursory reading of the course objectives, but entails a critical analysis of each aspect of the course. If your preparation is thorough, regardless of how the examination questions are formatted, your responses will be very analytical and not simply a regurgitation of the teacher’s notes. The use of study aids, whatever format they may take, past paper reviews, and group study, if you are so inclined, have all proven to be beneficial to varying degrees.

We are living in an era where our nation is witnessing both the creation and use of a considerably revised version of an approach towards education. This new dispensation stands directly opposite to many past half hearted attempts conducted with little vision. As we strive for perpetual success, I wish all our students a term which is overflowing with the highest degrees of accomplishment in all their subject areas. Make your nation proud!

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.