Today’s Editorial January 15: Happy to end social promotion

Is there truly going to be an end to social promotion in Cayman’s public school system?

We hope so.

At a recent Education Conference problems were outlined and solutions offered to improve the public education system in the Cayman Islands.

One of those suggestions was to end social promotion where students are allowed to continue to pass through school with their peers without satisfying academic requirements or meeting performance indicators at key grades.

Research shows that passing students on to the next grade when they are unprepared doesn’t prepare students for future employment or for college. It’s also doesn’t do much for their self esteem or achievement.

But retention isn’t necessarily the answer, either.

Retention in a grade greatly increases the likelihood that a student will drop out of school and, if instructional changes aren’t made, keeping a kid back a grade is ineffective.

What we have to do is have a far reaching curriculum that relates to the educational needs of all our students.

One area that has and is still lacking in the Cayman Islands is the teaching of technical and vocational skills. By not teaching these to the students who would most benefit by them means we are cheating the students out of future economic successes and our country out of good, home-grown talent.

Taking responsibility for ending social promotion requires tough decisions and strong actions.

It means requiring students to meet performance standards in key subject areas to be able to advance.

Stopping social promotion will mean setting clear expectations for students and explicit policies for promotion.

At the heart of it all, though, is holding all stakeholders accountable for student performance.

Our leaders, administrators, teachers, parents and community members need to expect more of our students and of themselves.

More children must be given more chances to succeed.

Part of the reason we use expatriates to shore up our workforces is because our own people haven’t been properly trained to do certain jobs.

The training has to start in schools, not when a student has graduated and is depending on training from an expatriate.

We’re already on a good track. We’ve got a Cabinet minister dedicated to improving the education system and a woman at the helm of the department who is known for her ability for long-term vision and dedication to this country.

It won’t be an easy process, but one that is necessary for the good of our students and the future of our country.