Letter To The Ministry Of Education: The CCSLC Tragedy


CCSLC:  is the three-year lower secondary education component of CXC Education Programme.  CCSLC stands for Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence.

The CCSLC examinations are offered to students who are categorized as being unable to attain the CSEC standard.

The candidates who are successful at this examination are awarded a certificate of Mastery or Competent.  The examinations are conducted in five subject areas and in order to obtain the certificate a candidate MUST be successful in all 5 subject areas. Failing just one means one cannot gain the certificate; that has no relevance in the first place.

It is my (and many educators’ ) honest opinion that the CCSLC programme is a money-making affair and time waster.
The students who are involved in this programme struggle to understand even basic English and arithmetic. These are teenagers who have learning disabilities and have fallen through the cracks of our failed education system. Many come from homes where academic support is absent.  The parents/guardians are in the very same educational state just as the students are.

The system has failed these students because it does not provide the technical areas where they are more likely to excel and develop life skills.

When the NTTC ( National technical Training Center) on Nugent Avenue was commissioned, it was for this very purpose of equipping these slower students with life skills that would provide means for them to cope in society and at the same time earn a living. However, the center was closed because there was no proper plan in place for it to be successful and effective.

The education system still has no plan to facilitate the successful development of the so-called “level 4” students.  They are thrown into a dilemma with the CXC CCSLC programme that sets them up to fail from the get-go.

I noticed that CXC has decided to delay the CAPE and CSEC examinations by 3 weeks. Yet, no announcement was given as to the status of the CCSLC examinations.  The candidates for this programme are at a more severe disadvantage than the CAPE and CSEC candidates. However, nobody seems to be concerned enough to lobby for their interest.

The CCSLC progarmme is not recognized by any business organization as a qualifier for employment.  Never on any application is the certificate offered by this programme placed as a requirement for employment.  You will find CAPE, CSEC, GCE on job application forms, but not CCSLC.

The ministry of education needs to pull this programme from its educational roadmap and implement technical areas that would definitely help the level 4 students to acquire much-needed life skills.

The policymakers in education need to set up a national consultation with all stakeholders (parents, teachers, students), to formulate a strategy to help these students and abandon the CCSLC programme. It just DOES NOT work. Point blank! Imagine trying to teach Spanish to these students who cannot even construct a simple sentence with correct subject/verb agreement.  Or teaching the concept of finding the volume of a cylinder when they are unable to mentally determine the product of 5 times 3.

The people in the ministry of education know it, but they continue to fail our students with this ridiculous mess they have signed on to.

The level 4 students need urgent help. The system as is does not offer any help. Instead, it presents a roadblock for them to fail.

It is high time for the principals of secondary schools that facilitate the CCSLC programme, to be serious and advocate for a system that will benefit the students and not fail them.

J. Surhamme



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  1. As a parent who only learned about this program when my child was forced into it, without any consultation, I agree with the writer. I will go further to say that this program calls our children failures before they even have the opportunity to try. And the schools don’t care enough to work with parents to help their children improve. I’ve never missed a PTA meeting for my child in 5 years of high school and not once has this CCSLC been mentioned. My child is not a “level 4” student. There are 2 Bachelors and a Masters between my wife and I, so help at home is not an issue. Teachers have become nonchalant and lazy. And the education officials have become complicit in this. To the detriment of our children.

  2. One thought or two!
    Every child, every student can LEARN! Those who teach MUST be qualified, competent, in love with their subject matter to be a successful teacher. They MUST have a ‘mastery’ of their subject to effectively and efficiently communicate that knowledge to the students to achieve the learning process and get the required results.
    Also, know this and never, never forget it:”Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care,” to be able to connect with the students and succeed in their learning process.
    Our education system MUST prioritize STEM and business curriculum powered by our Caribbean creative Arts (consciousness), pre-K to tertiary.
    Our economic growth and social development REQUIRE that transformation sooner rather than later.

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