Despite being touted for decades as one of the premier schools in Guyana, President’s College was noticeably missing from the list of top schools during the announcement of the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) results last week.
At the press conference last Thursday, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand presented the cut-off marks for Queen’s College (514 marks), The Bishops’ High School (510 marks), St. Stanislaus College (506 marks), St. Rose’s High School (503 marks), and St. Joseph’s High (500 marks). President’s College’s absence from the list raised concerns in the audience, with at least one media operative directing questions on the school’s present standings.
Noting that no one had been awarded a place at the school along with the fact that no cut-off mark had been mentioned, one person said, “Twenty years ago…the big school was President’s College. Twenty years later we are not hearing any mention of them even as one of the schools in the top 5 of the country.”
In response, Manickchand said, “Twenty years ago, it [President’s College] was created to be the top school; it no longer is functioning
in that regard because it is not meeting the needs of our children best.”
She further explained that the school is the top school on the East Coast, which allowed both residential and non-residential places.
Students who attained 491 marks and more and who live between Cummings Lodge and Mahaica are awarded a non-residential place while residential spots were awarded to students from all regions except Region 3.
“So it [President’s College] is actually serving more persons and more needy persons now,” Manickchand said. She continued, “What happened was you have a school…that is generally underpopulated but extremely expensive to run because it is a residential school. And while that was happening you had all these children from…1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 5 and so on who needed a good school to go to but couldn’t access it because it was only for the top echelon.”
Manickchand expressed the belief that the ministry’s current position in regards to President’s College offers top-notch education to those who would have otherwise been deprived of it. “If we were to say we’re offering President’s College only to top students then essentially what we’re saying is 120 elite students in this country will have the option of going to either PC or QC. Some will choose PC, some will choose QC and both will be underpopulated which is not good for the delivery of the quality education that can be delivered and it really denies children in the hinterland areas who can do better if they’re given an opportunity with labs and so on; it denies them that opportunity.”
Despite the school’s apparent fall from grace, the minister nevertheless maintained that President’s College remains one of the best schools in the country, especially in regards to its Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) performances.
“President’s College is one of our better performing secondary schools,” she said. “If you look at subjects over the years, we are talking about 90 percent passes in the 17 subjects they’re offering there.”
She added, “Since the ministry changed its policy in regards to President’s College – allowing entrants from regional schools – if you look at President’s College’s score, everything for CXC are in the 90s.
So these children are coming somewhere from Region 1 – that can’t come to this school unless we allow them to live there – and they are getting in the 90s at CXC; [grade] 1’s and so on. They may not have been able to get that in their regions at this stage. So I think it actually benefits.”
“The quality of education being offered there is on par with the quality we have everywhere else,” she emphasised.