Growth Rate in CXC STEM Subject Entries: Implications for Meeting the Development Needs of the Caribbean
Keywords:STEM education, secondary education, Caribbean Examination Council, Caribbean development, education policy
After years of emphasizing the need to prepare students with skills acquired though the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for the demands of the job market and to support economic development, there is a need to assess the extent to which subject entries for end of secondary school examinations in the Caribbean reflect change in this direction. Such an assessment was undertaken by examining the extent to which students are taking STEM clusters of subjects in the May/June Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). It was found that the number and percentage of entries for STEM subjects were higher than those for the overall CSEC subject entries. A low rate of positive growth was noted in many clusters of STEM subjects along with periods of negative growth. It was concluded that, at best, the growth rate in STEM subject entries was anaemic. In view of the importance of the STEM subjects in preparing secondary school students both for the world of work and for advanced studies that will provide critical advanced skills required in the workforce of the twenty-first century, more effective policy and policy implementation in education must be pursued in the Region to ensure a sharper focus on STEM education at the secondary level.