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Published 15th November 2011, 3:40pm

With the launch of new criteria for graduation from government secondary schools, the Education Ministry in the Cayman Islands has taken a giant step forward, in its drive to establish a world-class education system, characterised by high standards of achievement and success for all learners.

As announced at a press conference on 15 November, 2011, graduation criteria will include academic criteria for the first time.  Until now, graduation criteria for schools have been solely based on attendance and behaviour. Through this new initiative, all students who wish to obtain a graduation diploma at the end of compulsory education will also be expected to meet a minimum academic standard.

Following extensive stakeholder consultation the following graduation criteria have been agreed:

  • Level 1 High School Diploma: at least 5 passes at Level 1, which must include English and mathematics, numeracy or mathematics functional skills
  • Level 2 High School Diploma: at least 5 passes at level 2, which must include English and mathematics (CXC, GCSE, IGCSE, AS or AP)
  • Level 2 High School Diploma, with honours: at least 7 passes at level 2, which must include English and mathematics  (CXC, GCSE, IGCSE, AS or AP)
  • 90% or more attendance, including authorised absence, during Years 10-12
  • Less than 15 days suspension during Years 10-12.

Also under development are specific parameters for citizenship and community service.

Minister for Education, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP, explained the importance of  this new development. “These criteria have been long awaited by our business and education communities. They are a clear indication of my commitment to raise the standards of education in these islands. It’s not good enough to merely turn up and behave moderately well to gain a High School Diploma. Modern society requires a minimum skill level, even at the most basic entry level of employment, and hence our criteria must reflect such requirements.

"These criteria also reflect my continued commitment to encouraging lifelong learning -- what I like to term second chances. Within these criteria are opportunities to accumulate the minimum academic standard over time, not just at one sitting."

Going forward, the ministry will build in ways to recognise adult learners who achieve the High School Diploma thresholds even though they have already completed compulsory education.

Second chances are also built into the non-academic criteria. Students will now be able to work off days of suspension through community service if they remain suspension free throughout an agreed period of time.

Education Ministry Chief Officer, Mrs Mary Rodrigues, thanked all those involved in the process, “The new graduation criteria are the fruit of much debate and the contributions of a special Ministerial committee of key stakeholders, chaired by the Chief Education Officer, Mrs Shirley Wahler. We owe them our thanks. This is a huge milestone for the Government Education System and will help prepare our young people more effectively for the future.”

The new graduation criteria are designed to be within the reach of special education needs students studying within mainstream education at the high schools. Students within the Lighthouse School will continue to have a separate graduation and work will continue on a Special Diploma to recognise their achievements.  Wherever possible, the Ministry is committed to recognising and celebrating the achievements of students from the Lighthouse School at the regular graduation ceremonies.