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CXC REPEATERS

by Shastri Maharaj
Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
Nov 11,1992.Pg.18)

I think probably the second most traumatic experience for the average young Trinbagonian must be awaiting the C.X.C. results (the first being the dreaded Common Entrance Examination).

Now, I feel I could be very wrong about this being a traumatic experience for a lot of students. Many a year in my tenure as a teacher have I been privy to students' justification with respect to their C.X.C. results slip. In the majority of instances, students are not ashamed, embarrassed, awed, or disappointed with their results. In fact, many students actually believe that the subjects in which they have made a Grade 4 in General is a pass. And they go about the place sprouting such a lie. When corrected, they appear indifferent or their response is "...well, ah get 2 passes at the Basic level, an dat good, oui".

I find all of this to be quite frightening, disturbing and amazing. There are many youths out there who celebrate the one and only subject they may have passed at either C.X.C., General or Basic. It is as if they do not have a conscience and failure to them appears to be a normal and acceptable way of life.

Well, for sure, as clear as daylight, these students know that they can always attend "Continuation classes", YTEPP and of course, try to repeat in the school they last attended.

Academically, many students cannot "cut it" (maybe socio-economic factors affect performance). The technical/vocational and art and craft programmes always enjoy a better success rate in their respective subjects in their final examination.

With all the support, training and literature that is provided by the state, one would expect that teachers, educators in the academic fields such as Science, Maths, Social Studies and English would produce students with passes in these subjects at the C.X.C. level.

Students are failing! Are teachers failing? Is the curriculum failing? Are the curriculum supervisors working assiduously hand in hand with their teachers? What are the parents doing with their children? Maybe, it could be a lack of any kind of incentive other than intrinsic to motivate and create efficient and effective instructional deliverers.

What I do know is, that I dislike students' apparently indifferent attitude to passing or failing the C.X.C. EXAMINATION. Definitely, there are many homes that encourage and devise strategies that ensure students' academic success. But they are in the minority and to be found in the "Semi-Gov't schools". The totally Gov't funded schools cannot brag, boast, compete or defend any claim to success that is enviable and worthy of mention, (maybe only at the "Advanced Level").

Nevertheless, this is not what I really want to focus my attention on today. I specifically want to address the issue of repeaters in the schools.

One would imagine that the criterion for re-entry into schools would be based upon academic performance/potential and the isolated case of illness etc.

It seems however, that academic excellence, although an asset to any school, is no longer the main or only criterion. Almighty sport is still reigning as the number one outsider for repeating. It is the school that stands to gain a reputation as the best. It is in their best interest to ensure that some of the repeaters are sport personalities. Of course, the school likes to be on the map and in the news!

Now, I don't have a problem with schools accepting students who are sports personalities to repeat the C.X.C. exams. My concern deals with the terrible injustice and wrong that is being played and imposed by the society and the school's administration in allowing these types of students to repeat. Who is exploiting who? Is the school really concerned with the eventual outcome of these students? Will they end up in jail like Mike Tyson~ (a product of a system that is only out for material gain).

In a lot of instances these sports repeaters are not academically successful at school. It may have something to do with the way they manage and organize themselves. And, what their priorities are!

Their attitude, behaviour, ambition, value system, academic and society perception are all in relation to their bloated and growing ego. They get the feeling that they are untouchable and beyond correction. An ego, which is fed and supported by the praise and special attention given to such students during their school career.

In the majority of instances, such students are unreceptive and unresponsive to basic skills in reading, writing and maths. The school encourages and sanctions their time during school hours for none-academic activities.

It is only in rare instances that some of these types of students manage to understand the virtue and the value and implications of a sound education. In time, some of these students who are allowed to repeat on the grounds of sport soon become egoistical, too temperamental and operate with a sense of superiority.

Many of our sporting heroes who have made it internationally (I am sure) have at one time or the other realized the importance and value of being educated, articulate and socially proper. Wendell Mottley, Hasley Crawford, Gene Samuel (just to name a few) are examples of sports people who demonstrate these admirable qualities.

I would only hope that these Principals heed the advice of their Deans and Teachers and ensure that proper and special counselling be given to these sports repeaters so they can in time become well adjusted and well liked citizens of this lovely country.

(Art is Life has a dream that this gov't would bestow unto Liam Teague a full- paid scholarship to pursue his musical education abroad).