Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday has suggested that he will, in Parliament, return to the issue of the number of students who do not complete their secondary education.
He hinted this after the answer he received on Thursday about a question he submitted on the issue.
In a question to Minister of Education, St. Clair Jimmy Prince Friday said:
“There is an alarming disparity among the secondary schools in the country concerning the graduation rates of students who attend the various schools.
“Will the Minister please state what is the completion rate (or drop-out rate) at each secondary school in the country for the academic years 2017 and 2018?”
In response, Prince said:
“Mr. Speaker, the graduation rate, completion rate, and dropout rate, though they have a bearing on each other, cannot be used interchangeably since each denotes a different meaning.”
He said that in 2016- 2017, the overall dropout rate stood at 2.26 per cent, while in 2017-2018, it was 2.75 per cent.
He gave the following figures as the dropout rate for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years:
|Secondary School||2016-17 (%)||2017-18 (%)|
|St. Joseph’s Convent (M)||0.59||1.86|
|Mount View Adventist||5.4||4.17|
|West St. George||1.78||1.59|
|St. Clair Dacon||2.6||15.77|
|St. Vincent Grammar||0||0|
|St. Joseph’s Convent (K)||0||0|
|Bequia Community High||5.34||6.15|
Responding to the data, Friday said he wanted a clarification on how the figures are attained.
“…what I am seeking to understand is how is it that you would have seen form 1 where a cohort of secondary students go in, and if you track that cohort right through form 5, it reduces, on average, over 30 per cent and that doesn’t seem to match with the low dropout rates which we are hearing here.
“Because I just looked at it anecdotally and I see in my alma mater that if you have 28 students starting in form 1 eight gradated form 5. Where are the remainder going? They are not in the school. And that suggests a 5 or 6 per cent dropout rate that doesn’t count. So, I will seek the clarification later, Mr. Speaker.”
In response, the education minister said that the various secondary schools have advised him that there are different reasons for people dropping out.
He mentioned migration, pregnancy, repeaters, and transfer –which he said is a different category.
“So, you will not find the same people at all times moving up from form 1 to form 5 and graduating at the same time. So, these are the reasons given to us,” Prince said.
Friday then asked if the figure quoted was the rate of drop out in form 5 and the minister said yes.
“That does clarify a lot,” Friday said. “Because I am looking at the students who go in at form 1, how many do survive to form 5. And the figures suggest that at least a third of them drop out before form 5.
The minister responded:
“Well, they drop out for various reasons.”
The opposition leader retorted:
“Well, I know the reasons are various but I want to know what is happening in the schools for the children who go in, what happens when they come out. They are supposed to come out after five years.
“Ok, I will follow up, Mr. Speaker, but that does clarify how the figures are attained.”