The Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training has announced the recommendations of a 24-member National Review Commission to amend the Bahamas High School Diploma (BHSD).
The Ministry revealed its findings during a press conference at the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, June 1, 2023. Among those in attendance were the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training; the Hon. Zane Lightbourne, Minister of State; Lorraine Armbrister; Permanent Secretary; Dominique Russell-McCartney, Acting Director; Keyshan Bastian, Deputy Permanent Secretary; senior ministry and department officials, Cecil Thompson, Chairman of the Bahamas High School National Review Commission and members of the Commission, representatives from UB, BTVI, the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of the Bahamas and private schools.
In October, 2022 Minister Hanna-Martin launched the Bahamas High School Diploma National Review Commission to review the standards of the BHSD, which was implemented in 2014 to track and monitor student learning outcomes. Students were required to meet 8 minimum national standards of national requirements as prerequisites and performance indicators to earning a diploma.
The Commission, which comprised six working committees, travelled throughout the country and met with a diverse group of stakeholders who shared concerns and recommendations to determine the best way forward.
Minister Hanna-Martin said today (June 1) is a “red letter day” in education.
In addition to the adoption of recommendations by the Commission, she advised that for the academic year 2023 all students will participate in graduation ceremonies. “This has not been the practice and previously only those who obtained the high school diploma would mark the end of the school life with a ceremony. This year every student will attend the graduation ceremony. We want to ensure that our children have hope for the future even if their high school years are not all they hoped them to be.”
She acknowledged the Chairman and members of the Commission for their help with the “incredible” body of work. The work is ongoing as many of the recommendations were accepted and several are still under review.
“Its work was truly grassroots in its orientation. They went throughout this nation, islands everywhere, spoke with teachers, parents; the community.”
She explained that the education stakeholders were commissioned to review all criteria associated with BHSD as part of a mandate to ensure that offerings were more inclusive and prepared students to secure entry level employment upon the completion of high school or for tertiary education.
They were also mandated to recommend pathways to the high school diploma which promoted and celebrated the gifts and talents of students and provided opportunities accordingly for associated credentials.
“Today, we celebrate and are grateful for the sacrifice and hard work of that team to bring to the fore recommendations to transform the education sector as we know it. Today, we say as a government and a people we acknowledge that our students learn differently, are differently gifted, are differently curious but they are all valuable to our nation and its development.
“For the first time as I am aware, while students have secured certifications for years in specialized programmes of interest, moving forward they will have approved equivalent certifications recognized on par with national certifications.
“This means that a Hospitality and Tourism student studying the inner workings of hotels and lodgings, and earning an international credential will now be able to have that credential assessed for equivalency, and if approved be used in place of a BJC to satisfy high school diploma qualifications requirements.”
State Minister Lightbourne described the work of the committees as “transformational”.
He said, “We are committed to ensuring that the recommendations which have been accepted are actioned in the shortest possible time for our students beginning with the class of 2023.”
The acting director provided an update on the Commission’s report.
She said the recommendations include some modifications to the existing criteria and the need to ensure inclusive policies for special needs students.
Recommendations for the class of 2023:
a. Remove the 27 credit hours requirement, which was deemed unnecessary;
b. Reduce the Attendance and Punctuality rates from 90% to 80%, in order to accommodate extenuating circumstances which are not within the control of students such as illness or a family emergency;
c. Remove the three parent teacher conferences as a criteria for receiving a diploma, as students should not be penalized for the failure of parents or guardians to comply; and
d. Retain English Language and Mathematics as a BJC requirement, but permit students to submit any other two subjects as BJC subject requirement.
e. Establish the Bahamas High School Diploma Unit to ensure the implementation of the revised criteria for the attainment of a Bahamas High School Diploma (phase 1: two technical officers, Phase 2: ADE and 2 additional technical officers)
f. Establish a Justification and Appeals Committee. Discussions have started. The committee will commence its work by August 2023. Those students who believed they were disenfranchised will have the opportunity
to sit with the committee and present their case.
g. Establish a committee to review the special needs inclusion. Discussions have started and the composition of the team is being identified.
h. Increase training access from annual to semi-annual. Ongoing cycle.
i. Review the existing BHSD criteria with a view to ensuring multiple pathways accepting equivalent certification options. Of the six pathways recommended, the Ministry amalgamated and have agreed to three
The Academic Criterion are accepted as follows, by options outlined:
- OPTION 1 (General Pathway): 4 BJCs Minimum D Pass; Math, Language and any other 2 subjects, 2.0 CGPA
- OPTION 2 (General Pathway): Numeracy/Literacy Equivalent OR BJCs OR City and Guilds, 2.0 CGPA (The credentials will be channeled through NAECOB to the Evaluation and Assessment Division of the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training. If approved, they will be accepted as a criteria for receiving a BHSD.) We are saying to all that a career in Aquaculture, Plumbing, Electrical Installation, and Engineering is just as important as a career Scientist or Mathematician or Lawyer.
- OPTION 3 (Honors Pathway): 4 BJCs B Pass Minimum: Math/Language/Science, and any other subject, 3.0 CGPA
The Non-academic Criterion are accepted as follows:
- 1. complete thirty (30) hours of Community Service, to be completed over three years (grades 10 – 12)
- 2. maintain 80% attendance, over three years (grades 10 – 12)
- 3. maintain 80% punctuality, over a three year period (grades 10 – 12)
- 4. participate in 20 hours of Job Readiness training to be completed over three years (grades 10 – 12)
j. Reintroduce student intervention based on a rolling recovery programme. As soon as a student obtains a D or F grade in a subject, it is expected that they receive academic support and be allowed to recover the grade. All students will be tracked and those who do not receive a diploma will be encouraged to participate in BTVI’s SMART START program.
k. Establish the BHSDNRC oversight committee to ensure implementation of the recommendations.
l. Compare BHSD criteria to regional and international school exit competencies and best practices
m. Expand competency/technical based training through the exploration of heads of agreement articulation agreements crafted to include an education component.
n. Reintroduce the national public relations campaign
o. Improve data entry/data management and monitoring process.