Anthony Stewart, PhD
For the longest time now the books are not balanced. We live in debt. We live “hand to mouth,” from paycheck to paycheck. Accountability is the fashionable word of the day but we are not able to account to ourselves not only for our finances but also our actions. We desperately need financial advisors. How to balance our personal budget is a big challenge. If only we had the knowledge of how to do it. Is there a seminar some place or a course at the Community College? Do the professional associations offer such a course?
Based on the 2019 CSEC results our future financial advisors show a pass rate of 78% for Economics, 80% for Principles of Accounts, 87% for Principles of Business, and 33% for Mathematics. Can we trust advisors who have not mastered the minimum standards in Mathematics? Why are we at this point when CXC has made provision for our success by introducing School Based Assessment in Mathematics? Is the Education Revolution responsible for the 2/3 failure rate in Mathematics? What are students, teachers, administrators, and policy makers doing about this persistent problem?
There is a theory that a pass in Mathematics is now the limiting factor to access higher education and jobs. Consequently there may not be the motivation to have more students passing as it may put stress on the job providers and the college admission personnel. But I do not think that this can be an official policy. Or is it? One of the main functions of a College education should be to train students to be employers.
Based on my own empirical research and experience vast improvement in the Mathematics performance can be made if
All teachers are required to have a pass in Mathematics to enter and remain in the profession.
Students are scheduled for a minimum of 1 hour of instruction in Mathematics in every class every day.
Students are mandated to have all the materials needed for studying the subject as indicated by the teacher that may include
Students are organized to help each other through cooperative learning.
Parents provide support and encouragement.
Students do the work and practice extensively.
Teachers are provided with necessary training and paid adequately.
It is not uncommon for students to be trying to borrow calculators and geometry sets to write examinations. One wonders what they were using to prepare for the examinations. Many students do not have the discipline of how to prioritize their spending so that they can secure what they need to help them succeed. Some often remark, “My belly comes first.” They too have a problem balancing their own budgets and need guidance.
The National Budget used to be preceded by widespread consultations followed by the debate in December. Apparently there is no consultation like in the past and the debate, is usually postponed to January of the next year, perhaps due to budgetary constraints. Nevertheless let us all prepare for Personal, Organizational, and National budgets by servicing all our debts- loans, utilities bills, and taxes. The Budget and Accounts may not balance as yet but perhaps if we apply some genuine Mathematical formula relating to cause and effect, we may obtain a pass. Just as the National Budget needs our supporting taxes, so too we must tax our brains to provide our hard working Mathematics teachers with the support they need to motivate students to achieve. The task of correcting systemic deficiencies in students with low expectation who are demotivated, unprepared, without tools and with inadequate support is daunting. Mathematics teachers need the collective effort and support of everyone.
The Business teachers and students must be congratulated for the creditable results in the Business subjects: Economics, Principles of Accounts, and Principles of Business. This means that schools have the technical resources to make their own yearly budgets and to account for the substantial funds they raise and expend. Nothing should prevent them from keeping school financial records according to international financial accounting standards. Internal auditors can also monitor the records to endure that standard procedures are followed.
If and when this is done in schools there would be a greater capacity to understand the National Budget, to determine the authenticity and reasonableness of the figures presented and to value the role of the Public Accounts Committee in its oversight role. Non-government organizations would also have a larger pool of potential Budget officers, Treasurers, and Auditors and this is where we may get our future financial advisors.
In the next National Budget we look forward to funding for the training and adequate remuneration for Mathematics teachers, funding for adequate numbers of Auditors, and the provision of financial audits for the previous year. Provision of timely financial information is essential for proper planning. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit.”