Editorial for August 27: Exams show education getting a passing grade

It is gratifying to report significant improvements in results achieved by Caymanian students at the critical end-of-secondary school exams.

For the sixth consecutive year, Cayman students have achieved record-breaking pass rates in GCSE/CXC exams with 61.2 percent of students getting five ‘level 2’ passes – grade A*-C at GCSE (General Certificate in Secondary Education) or equivalent level.

Crucially, this year there have been significant improvements in mathematics and English.
This is no fluke. The implementation of a national curriculum in 2008 and the move from middle schools to “all-through” high schools have been hailed as key milestones in reforming a system where under-performance had become the norm.

For years in Cayman, it has been lamented that many children are leaving school barely able to read and write.

This newspaper has been vocal in highlighting the difficulties that our schools have faced over the years, particularly in numeracy and literacy.

Our concern has always been that too many young Caymanians risked missing out on the opportunities offered by Cayman’s advanced economy because the education system was not preparing them adequately for the world of work.

It is only right that we take time out today to acknowledge the strides that have been made and recogize the officials, teachers and students who are responsible for such improvements in a relatively short period of time.

This year saw 61 percent of students who took end-of-high-school examinations achieve a passing grade. That is double the percentage that passed the exams in 2008, when just 30 percent of the pupils gained passing marks.

The Cayman Islands’ chief education officer, Shirley Wahler, credits education reform that has seen Cayman adopt a British-style national curriculum for the improved examination results.

Not only have the pass rate results in these examinations doubled – the number of students taking the exams has also doubled in the five years since the curriculum was introduced.

Policy makers and educators should not rest on their laurels, however. Cayman Islands’ students are competing in a global job market right here in their home country.

They need the tools to work in a sophisticated, modern economy. Being the best in the Caribbean is a good start. But the progress can and must continue.



  1. Well done and congrats to all involved!

    @John Levy – good point on the teacher turnover…

    What I found a little concerning in the previous article was that though exit interviews were conducted with those teachers who left, there seemed to be scant information on their reasons for not renewing? These exam results would show that they have been doing a good job.

    Teaching jobs are synchronized to the academic year and it speaks volumes for their professionalism that those leaving have completed the year.
    The flip side is that before they commit to the next year they look ahead and need to be certain they will be in a position to honor that…
    However, their partners in other professions have differing contractual obligations and that may be a factor – I know someone who is approaching their term limit and his wife is a teacher…

    Another question to be asked is how this situation compares to the private schools – i.e. is it a problem endemic to the island as a whole, or a symptom specific to the public schools?

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