In the Kaieteur News of Sunday 8th April, 2012 Minister of Education, Ms. Priya Manickchand says there has been ‘renewed interests specifically in the area of Mathematics across the board among teachers, students and parents’ as a result of the G$85.7M CSEC Intervention of 2012.
Could the Honourable Minister explain how she knows this?
Measuring attitudes and interests is an important aspect of the science of Measurement and Evaluation. It would be enlightening to all in the education fraternity to know about the measurement process used by the Ministry of Education to determine that there have been renewed interests among teachers, students and parents. Was the two-point or five-point Likert scale used? What psychometric scale was used? What sample was it administered to?
Additionally, the quotation is comparative in nature. That is, the word ‘renewed’ suggests that a comparison was made between previous interest levels and current interest levels. It was only after a comparative analysis that the Honourable Minister could have deduced that there have been ‘renewed interests’. When was the first interest analysis of students done?
The issue here is two-fold. Firstly, Guyanese taxpayers are spending too much money for ‘renewed interests’. Was this one of the initial objectives of the CSEC 2012 initiative? I heard from the Minister’s own mouth that the objective of this programme is to have a 20% improvement in 4 months in the pilot schools. I remember these words well because at the same time there was a ruckus of laughter in the room. As such, it has to be assumed that the ‘renewed interests’ bit is a new objective.
It seems the Ministry of Education (MOE) is adding objectives every day. I have never heard of a programme in which objectives are added as the programme progresses. However, it might be a useful strategy for the MOE since one of these must be useful enough to explain the spending of G$85.7M. Secondly, my objections to the Honourable Minister’s comments is applicable to everything that the Ministry of Education does. This Ministry never does anything scientifically; according to established norms. The MOE demands scientific principles from teachers but they in turn never apply those same principles to their own course of action.
Here is a better example: a pretest was given in the middle of the 2012 CSEC Intervention and two and a half months later a posttest was conducted. I am guessing that these tests were done to measure the effectiveness of the 2012 CSEC Intervention. The basic principle in a pretest-posttest design is that the pretest should be the first thing done. Since this was not done, then any interpretation of the results will be rightly discredited.
Additionally, in a pretest-posttest design there must be something done in between, which is called the treatment (usually some form of new teaching methodology). The Ministry of Education did nothing in between. Teachers taught normally. There was no new teaching methodology. Since there was nothing new, there was no need for any pretest or posttest. Again, money wasted.
It is unimaginable that students were subjected to these two examinations, called pretest and posttest, and there was nothing new done between the two. Further, the pretest and posttest was done with all secondary schools in Guyana rather than with the 36 pilot schools of the 2012 CSEC Intervention. Had the pretest and posttest been designed to measure what was done during the programme, it would have been inappropriate to do them in all secondary schools in Guyana. Finally, the pretest and posttest were made up of CSEC questions taken from past papers. This suggests that between the pretest and posttest, all the topics taught were tested. This did not happen in any of the schools in the entire country. This is highly unethical in the principle of measuring students’ ability.
I do not blame the Minister for this oversight. I blame those who have advised her. The best thing that the Honourable Minister can do for the education system in Guyana is to apply those proven education principles to the administration of education. A Ministry of Education defined by proven scientific practices will do what the MOE has been unable to do up to now. That is, get returns on investment!
Mohammed S. Hussain