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Published 15th November 2011, 4:11pm

Another major educational improvement has been introduced for Cayman’s education system this year.

Following consultation with teachers, employers and other education stakeholders, a national qualifications framework, designed to provide an easily understood and consistent system for evaluating and comparing qualifications, has been launched by the Education Ministry and Department of Education Services.

“Do CXC and GCSE qualifications have equal value? How does a BTEC qualification compare to an IGCSE pass? What does a COEA qualification mean and what skill levels do persons with these passes possess?

“We’re constantly faced with these questions,” said Minister of Education, Training & Employment, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP. “It’s important that everyone in the community understands how qualifications are ranked and rated and how they match up to skills and knowledge levels. The Cayman Islands National Qualifications Framework (CINQF) will assist with all this.”

The CINQF has been developed to align with international and regional qualification frameworks such as those from the UK and CARICOM. It ranks student skills and abilities across five qualifications bands or levels.

“This will allow fair and consistent comparisons of qualifications from different international bodies,” Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler explained.

The first CINQF qualification band -- Entry Level -- is equivalent to upper primary standards. Following that is the Level 1 qualification band, which includes passes at CXC and CSEC grades IV - VI; and GCSE/IGCSE grades D through G. Passes at this level is equivalent to achievement at a Middle School/Junior High standard.

Passes at CXC and CSEC grades I - III or GCSE/IGCSE grades A* through C, fall into the Level 2 or Standard High School Level qualification band. Five Level 2 qualifications are recognised internationally as equivalent to a US high school diploma and mark successful completion of secondary education.

The new graduation criteria for Cayman Islands Government schools, which was recently launched by the Education Ministry, also require 5 or more Level 2 passes, including maths and English, for a standard or Honours High School Diploma.  Five or more passes at Level 1 will qualify individuals for a Level 1 High School Diploma. International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement diplomas, GCE ‘A’ Level passes or Associate Degrees will fall into the Level 3/Advanced Level band. At this level, qualifications indicate suitability for pursuing tertiary education options. The final two levels include bachelor and post-graduate degrees or equivalent qualifications.

“This has the potential to transform our education system, both in terms of setting clear goals for students and providing much needed information for employers,” Minister Anglin added. “We want all of our students to be life-long learners who know how to move forward in their educational journey.”

Chief Officer in the education ministry, Mrs Mary Rodrigues, explained that this launch represents the first phase of the NQF, and focuses on academic qualifications used mainly within the education sector.

“Our aim is to further develop the NQF to include TVET and work-based training qualifications achieved through overseas national training agencies as well as local providers. This is one of the reasons for the establishment of the Human Capital Development Agency (HCDA), which will be charged with the task of investigating how best to integrate work-based and training qualifications into the NQFE,” she stated.