We write in response to articles carried in the Gleaner of Thursday and Friday, August 30 & 31, headlined, ‘Barred from Calabar’ & ‘Calabar Holds Back’. In reference to a letter issued by the school to parents of prospective Grade 11 students, the article states, ‘ This means that come the beginning of the new school term next week, fourth form students who do not meet the standard will not have a place at the all-boys institution’. This inference is incorrect and does not reflect the situation.
In order to provide context and clarity to the debate that has ensued since the publication of the articles, we wish to state that the correspondence to parents of Grade 10 students was against the background of the school’s current strategic plan developed in 2016 and which, understandably, is aimed at facilitating every stakeholder to give of, and do their, best, especially our students. Among the initiatives implemented over the past year have been:
- Ongoing assessment of the performance of BOTH teachers and students in order to identify gaps and/or weaknesses.
- More targeted interventions for poor performing students. These have included:
- Free math tutoring by members of the Calabar Old Boys Association (COBA)
- Mentorship of struggling students by members of COBA
- Extra classes after school (Free)
- Academic Probation
- Termly Parents Meeting
- Guidance Counselling
- Home Visits
With regard to our gentlemen completing the first year of the CSEC programme (Grade 10), we have repeatedly stressed to them and their parents the need to work with the supportive academic team to maintain a grade average of no less than 60%.
On May 12, just ahead of end of year exams, a letter was issued to parents of prospective Grade 11 students in which the following was reiterated:
- To be promoted to Grade 11, each boy MUST receive an average of no less than 60% for his overall average along with good conduct.
• Students with unsatisfactory grades will be given letters inviting their parents to meet with the Vice Principal and Dean of Studies on Friday, May 25, 2018.
• There are some students who have been preselected to attend mandatory Summer School based on their averages over the first two terms. Parents are being encouraged to cooperate and send these youngsters as it is clear that they have not mastered the Grade 10 portion of the syllabus.
On July 26, after results were released, the school issued a letter to parents of 316 of our over 1,700 students with Grade levels below 60%. Those who were in Grade 10 were given two options:
- Mandatory enrolment in the school’s Extended Day programme with probationary promotion to Grade 11;
- Voluntary withdrawal of the child and transfer to another school
Of the 316 members of the student body to whom letters were sent, 276 (or over 87%), to date, have opted to continue in the Extended Day programme. Interestingly, even students with averages 60% and above have requested to be enrolled in the Extended Day programme.
The decision to ask eleven (11) of our Grade 10 gentlemen to find alternative places was arrived at after all of the interventions listed above, in addition to lengthy deliberations. We are fully cognizant of the fact that this is not a disciplinary issue involving the Education Code, and the intention was never to punish the students. It is our view that there are times when a student cannot be helped by the resources of a particular school and a change of environment is in their best interest. That is the driving motive behind our decisions and we stand by it.
While the ‘social promotion’ vs. ‘promotion with support’ debate rages, we are acutely aware of the very competitive environment awaiting our graduates at the end of their high school career. Our aim and objective is to ensure that they are as equipped as possible to take their place in society.
Note has been taken of the subtle innuendos by some that, given our long and proud co-curricular history, many of these gentlemen might have been victims of their participation in that aspect of school life. The evidence rejects that and in fact we celebrate the fact that over eighty percent (80%) of our students who participated in co-curricular activities are exiting Grade 11 this year with a minimum of five (5) CSEC subjects, including Mathematics and/or English Language!
It is our intention that every boy that comes through our gates should realise his full potential both academically and as a contributing member of our society. In this regard, we stand ready to work with the families that have entrusted the education of their boys to us and we make every effort to support each child based on his particular situation.
We acknowledge the efforts of our Board, academic staff, PTA and the Calabar Old Boys’ Association in supporting the various initiatives. We are confident that, with continued unblinking focus and effort, Calabar will continue to ‘raise the bar’ as we soar to our accustomed pride of place among the most sought after institutions for the education of young men in this country.
Albert A. Corcho
August 31, 2018