On April thirteen, Love News told you the story of how student and parent advocates criticized the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) on how it handled CAPE and CSEC exams last year and repeated those calls this year. That’s because the pandemic and the challenges of online learning have made it difficult for students to prepare. However, the Council, based on feedback from member governments, teachers, and students, will press on with the exams this year. However, those exams are starting later than usual. CXC Registrar, Doctor Wayne Wesley explained during a virtual press conference this morning.
Dr.Wayne Wesley, Registrar/CEO, CXC: “After careful deliberation and consideration of all the pertinent issues council which is made up of the governments of the region agreed that the revised strategy for the 2021 regional examination shall be as follows: One, to maintain the administration of all papers CXC will administer the Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination (CAPE), the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) examinations in their original format. That is for CAPE and CSEC papers 1, 2 and 3(1) School Based Assessment or Paper 3(2) for private candidates and for CCSLC papers 1 and 2. Secondly council approved the delay of the sitting of the regional examinations by a further two weeks. This will provide candidates with extra time to prepare for the examinations. Therefore examinations will commence on Thursday the 28th of June 2021 with release of results the last week in September to the first week in October as previously communicated. Thirdly the option to defer. The deadline for candidates to register their intent to defer has been further extended to the 31st of May 2021 so candidates will have up until the end of May to indicate their intent to defer their examinations.”
In addition to extending the deadline for school based assessments or SBAs, Doctor Wesley spoke about some of the other provisions being made for students who may feel stressed over taking exams during a pandemic.
Dr.Wayne Wesley, Registrar/CEO, CXC: “Council also took note of the concessions that CXC would have already put in place to facilitate candidates in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in addition it is important to know that further consideration will be given during the grading process to account for the likely psychosocial impact on students’ performance to ensure that they are not disenfranchised.”
While these provisions are being put in place, many feel that it is prudent to grade the exams differently or scrap the exams altogether given the fact that students are taking fewer exams. Our News Editor Dale McDougall asked the council’s chairman Sir Hilary Beckles squarely if the council is truly listening to regional concerns.
Dale McDougall, News Editor: How do you respond to the criticism that perhaps the council is tone deaf, still a bit tone deaf in terms of responding to some of the challenges. As you rightfully explained with the COVID situation in Trinidad, here in Belize we have recorded more than three hundred cases of the coronavirus and still we are facing tough economic situations, how do you respond to those who might say that this plan is still a bit tone deaf ?
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman, CXC: “Well I will say first of all that that judgment would be a little unfair. Now bear in mind that what we have done we have brought our ministers of education, we have brought our permanent secretaries from the education departments and we have sat in various places with all of our colleagues who know on the ground what the issues are. They all are aware that we must deliver these examinations, we have a project to deliver. They all are aware that we have the confidence to deliver these projects on behalf of our citizens, we have the confidence. They all are aware that we must not face this crisis with doubt and neither must we have a meltdown, that the people of the Caribbean must show confidence and courage in the face of a crisis and all of our institutions are asked to do their best and dialogue in negotiation and innovation to deliver services to our people. So we do have that challenge but to the extent that we are in dialogue with those responsible for education in each jurisdiction and they are bringing their knowledge to the table. It would be unreasonable to say that the council is tone deaf because the council is made up of all of these stakeholders and the stakeholders are not tone deaf, the ministers and so on are out there on the front line they know what the students are going through. We also heard from the teachers. We heard from the CUT, the Caribbean Union of Teachers, who made a splendid presentation, very impactful and persuasive presentation at the meeting so we heard from them. Of course in the search for practicality and compromise we never get a hundred percent, no one group of people get a hundred percent but the point is that where we have reached now having heard the teachers having heard the students I think no one is tone deaf because we have heard them, we have heard everyone. CXC then took all of that information onboard and indicated to the stakeholders this is what we’re going, we have heard you and this is what we’re going to do and then we’re asking you to improve what we are going to do. So we moved through that process and so I think on this time around I think we have done what the citizens of the region would expect us.”
According to Doctor Wesley, thirteen thousand six hundred fifty-five students at the CSEC level have opted to defer exams, while one thousand ninety students at the CAPE level have decided to do the same.