Accountability: 2019 CSEC results for POA, POB, and Mathematics

By Anthony Stewart, PhD

For the longest time now, the books are not balanced. We live in debt. We live “hand to mouth”, from paycheque to paycheque. Accountability is the fashionable word of the day but we are not able to account to ourselves not only for our finances but also our actions. We desperately need financial advisors. How to balance our personal budget is a big challenge. If only we had the knowledge of how to do it. Is there a seminar someplace or a course at the Community College? Do the professional associations offer such a course?

Based on the 2019 CSEC results, our future financial advisors show a pass rate of 78% for economics, 80% for principles of accounts, 87% for principles of business, and 33% for mathematics. Can we trust advisors who have not mastered the minimum standards in mathematics? Why are we at this point when CXC has made provision for our success by introducing school-based assessment in mathematics? Is the Education Revolution responsible for the two-thirds failure rate in mathematics? What are students, teachers, administrators, and policymakers doing about this persistent problem?

There is a theory that a pass in mathematics is now the limiting factor to access higher education and jobs. Consequently, there may not be the motivation to have more students passing as it may put stress on the job providers and the college admission personnel. But I do not think that this can be an official policy. Or is it? One of the main functions of a College education should be to train students to be employers.

Based on my own empirical research and experience vast improvement in the Mathematics performance can be made if

  1. All teachers are required to have a pass in mathematics to enter and remain in the profession.
  2. Students are scheduled for a minimum of 1 hour of instruction in mathematics in every class every day.
  3. Students are mandated to have all the materials needed for studying the subject as indicated by the teacher that may include
    • Textbook
    • Geometry set
    • Calculator
  4. Students are organised to help each other through cooperative learning.
  5. Parents provide support and encouragement.
  6. Students do the work and practice extensively.
  7. Teachers are provided with the necessary training and paid adequately.

It is not uncommon for students to be trying to borrow calculators and geometry sets to write examinations. One wonders what they were using to prepare for the examinations. Many students do not have the discipline of how to prioritize their spending so that they can secure what they need to help them succeed. Some often remark, “My belly comes first.” They too have a problem balancing their own budgets and need guidance.

The National Budget used to be preceded by widespread consultations followed by the debate in December. Apparently there is no consultation like in the past and the debate, is usually postponed to January of the next year, perhaps due to budgetary constraints. Nevertheless let us all prepare for personal, organizational, and national budgets by servicing all our debts — loans, utility bills, and taxes.

The budget and accounts may not balance as yet but perhaps if we apply some genuine Mathematical formula relating to cause and effect, we may obtain a pass. Just as the national budget needs our supporting taxes, so too we must tax our brains to provide our hard-working Mathematics teachers with the support they need to motivate students to achieve. The task of correcting systemic deficiencies in students with low expectations who are demotivated, unprepared, without tools and with inadequate support is daunting. Mathematics teachers need the collective effort and support of everyone.

The business teachers and students must be congratulated for the creditable results in the Business subjects: economics, principles of accounts, and principles of business. This means that schools have the technical resources to make their own yearly budgets and to account for the substantial funds they raise and expend. Nothing should prevent them from keeping school financial records according to international financial accounting standards. Internal auditors can also monitor the records to endure that standard procedures are followed.

If and when this is done in schools there would be a greater capacity to understand the National Budget, to determine the authenticity and reasonableness of the figures presented and to value the role of the Public Accounts Committee in its oversight role. Non-government organisations would also have a larger pool of potential budget officers, treasurers, and auditors and this is where we may get our future financial advisors.

In the next national budget we look forward to funding for the training and adequate remuneration for Mathematics teachers, funding for adequate numbers of auditors, and the provision of financial audits for the previous year. Provision of timely financial information is essential for proper planning. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit.”

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

2 replies on “The books cannot balance”

  1. I can only agree with you. I don’t reside in SVG but, whenever I speak to Vincentian friends abroad or at home or members of my family living in SVG or abroad. I’m saddened most of the time because I just can’t understand why time after time again they keep making the same mistakes. I often see decent people here trying to light a match (in this dark and heavy storm of corruption) to no avail. Our people are being kept ignorant about the real-world effects of these dumb policies. I too have concluded that the politicians are unable to do the maths that back-up their ideas. (That ULP is cooking the books is widely known yet almost no-one seems to be able to convince ordinary people of this.)

  2. Forty cents of every dollar that the government receives has to go towards paying the loan debts. Fifty cents in every dollar has to go to pay government employees. That leaves just 10 cents to run the country on, which is an impossible task.

    When the ULP came to power, they met a surplus in the government coffers. Within a short time, they had spent all of that money that the NDP had frugally accumulated. Then not satisfied with spending that 300 million they went on to borrow and spend a further 1500 million, that’s one and a half billion. So in 18 years have spent and put the country in debt for a sum approaching 2 billion dollars. Which means the country is bankrupt.

    Every aspect of what the ULP has taken control of has ended up costing the Vincentian people. We were told that there was a group of countries who would pay for the building of the Argyle International Airport. They were described as a coalition of the willing. That whole scenario turned out to be a whopping lie. There was no coalition of the willing. We were told that Cubans would build the airport, which meant Cubans and not Vincentians got the prime jobs. The reason we were given for using Cubans was that it was a provision required by the Venezuelans who would be paying the Cubans wages. That turned out to be another whopping lie. We were told to expect up to 10 400 seat aircraft arriving each week at Argyle, which would mean the airport would be profitable. That was just another dastardly lie. We were told that airlines were fighting to come to SVG, another lie, there were none at all at that time. The owners of the land at Argyle were told they would be paid for their property promptly, that was a lie, 60 landowners still await payment.

    The airport project was a three-year project which took the Cubans nine years to complete. During that time, we were paying the Cubans because the statement that the Venezuelans were paying was a lie. But what is worse, the airport could have been completed in three or four years. But all the time the airport was unfinished, people were inclined to vote ULP to see it finished, so another five years was added to the project. That five years cost the Vincentian people millions that did not need to be paid.

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