The Ministry of Education, in a statement on Tuesday, announced that it was targeting approximately 10,000 students entering form one for its Vacation Revision Programme (VRP) this year. Those children will be part of a total of 15,500 students the ministry hopes will take part in the programme in 2023.
The statement said that the programme was extended to focus on about 5,500 students in standards three and four, out of the 15,500 students. The remaining students will be those who took the Secondary Entrance Assessment Exam (SEA) in March and scored less than 50 per cent, but were still placed in secondary schools.
“The goal is to provide support to better prepare these students for the transition into secondary school, with remedial instruction in Mathematics, English Language Arts and English Language Arts Writing.”
A total of 18,889 students sat SEA in 2023.
The sessions will take place from July 17 to August 18. It will cover about 80 schools.
The programme was developed last year with a specific focus on students entering secondary school with low scores. A total of 2,700 students, out of a targeted 9,000, registered for the four-week programme in 2022.
In Tuesday's statement, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said the programme was a strategic response to provide students entering form one with academic support.
“The VRP 2022 better positioned students as they entered form one in September 2022… It is about providing support to all students who need it,” she said.
Vickram Ramlal, Presbyterian School Board chairman said, last year the results were similar, as close to half of the students who sat in 2022 did not score higher than 50 per cent.
“If we are looking at the same kind of performance as last year, it is worrisome that after a year out of the pandemic or five months out of the pandemic, we are still looking at that sort of performance from students. A lot of remediation has to be done.”
He said it was the experience of the Presbyterian schools, that students had not adjusted well coming out of the pandemic. He said students in some schools were struggling with mental health and psychosocial issues as they returned physically to school.
“I don’t think the country has fully grasped the effect that covid19 had on our students as they return to school.”
He said schools had been trying to treat with the issues. For the Presbyterians, he said the board started a programme to help students with mental health issues. He said a greater focus on the children who have issues is needed to find the root causes.
He added that, while the Ministry of Education did put the remedial programme in place last year, it might not have had the desired effect because of a low attendance.
“(For) one of the schools that I am aware of on our board, no one from standards three and four were attending the after-school programme because there were no teachers available.”
“The centres, in some cases, were far removed from the school, so a lot of children did not attend.
“So if the ministry wants to do a proper remediation this year they will have to look at, maybe, an increase in centres closer to where the catchment of children are not performing, or provide reliable transport.”