May 20, 2005
Largest turn-out for Common Entrance exam

A record number of students – 3210 – are today sitting Common Entrance Examination at centres throughout the country.

But the nervousness of former years may just be considerably lessened now that the children know they will all find places in secondary schools next September.{{more}}

The Ministry of Education here is continuing its process of ensuring compulsory secondary education for all as part of what the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) calls the “Education Revolution”. The process of promoting increased admittance to secondary schools began with the coming into office of the ULP and has come under criticism by the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).

To accommodate the increased numbers of children, the Education Ministry constructed temporary annexes of wood at several secondary schools including the traditional leading Boys Grammar School.

Only recently former prime minister Sir James Mitchell made a wisecrack at the NDP Georgetown launching of candidate Cameron Balcombe that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves would be known as the “plywood prime minister” because of this school building programme undertaken by his administration.

This year, 1729 boys and 1481 girls are registered to write the Common Entrance Examination, which has been designed with a difference. Students will, for the first time, be required to write a composition and a letter as part of their Language Arts test. In previous years, they were given a choice between writing a composition or a letter.

They will also be assessed in Mathematics and General Paper.

Last year a total of 2676 candidates, comprised of 1217 males and 1459 females, wrote the examination. The number of Common Entrance centres remain at nineteen this year. Fourteen are on mainland St. Vincent, while the remaining five are spread throughout the Grenadine islands of Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Mustique and Union Island.

Meanwhile, next Thursday 26 and Friday 27 May will see Grade 8 students from, schools denominated All Age Schools’ here writing the School Leaving Examinations. This test will see 718 students – 508 males and 210 females assessed in five subject areas: English, Mathematics, General Science, Social Studies, and Health and Family Life Education. Students will no longer write Home Economics/Industrial Arts as in the past.

The exams will be sat a 17 centres, 15 on mainland St. Vincent and 2 in the Grenadine islands of Union Island and Canouan.

In 2004, the examination was written by a total of 610 students – 387 males and 213 females.