Education, Local news, News

Dismay at in-person exams scheduled for June-July

Published 3 March, 2021


Buckie Got It, St. Kitts and Nevis News Source

Article by
Randy Bennett

“Discouraged, disheartened and dismayed.”

That’s how some Barbadian parents and secondary school students are feeling in the wake of the news by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) that they will be pushing ahead with this year’s Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination(CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams in the traditional face-to-face format.

Yesterday, during a virtual press conference CXC revealed that the exams would be held from June 14 to July 16, with results being made available sometime in September.

However, spokesperson for the Group of Concerned Parents of Barbados, Paula-Anne Moore and outspoken student advocate Khaleel Kothdiwala, have all condemned the decision, charging it was made without the consultation of students and parents.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Moore said the group was still looking to take legal action to contest the results of last year’s exam.

She said the decision by CXC to move full steam ahead with this year’s examinations was baffling.

“We cannot help as parents and students but feel rather discouraged, disheartened, dismayed, but still undefeated by the information that was shared during that press conference.

“We note with some concern there was no prior notification of students and parents and we would think that we would be key stakeholders. We were not notified of that press conference in advance and that lack of communication seems indicative and further evidence of the attitude of CXC to be more inwardly corporate focused and not outwardly focused on the best interests of the students,” Moore said.

“Our great concern is two-fold; that the 2020 vast majority of the adversely-affected students continue to remain disadvantaged and therefore their academic and other interests remain potentially permanently affected and we also are concerned that if those mistakes are not rectified that in 2021 CXC will not only repeat these flaws of 2020, they may very well be also at risk of perpetrating new flaws in 2021.”

She also took issue with the fact that CXC was one of the few examination boards that was not revamping its exam process amidst a COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is in the context of increased COVID outbreaks in several of the CARICOM territories including Barbados, Belize and Jamaica to name a few. So that seems to us to risk exposing students, CXC’s own staff as invigilators, potential staff at the school, exposing them to the virus and we do not understand why CXC seems to be the only place in the world that cannot come up with an alternative to exams in their assessments that are internationally recognized,” Moore contended.

Meanwhile, Kothdiwala told Barbados TODAY he was caught by surprise at the news of a press conference.

He too took offence that students were not consulted on the proposals and agreed it was puzzling that CXC was forging ahead despite unresolved issues related to the 2020 exams.

The student activist described the decision to host face-to-face exams in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as “reckless”.

“The fact is that in 2021 Barbados and many of our neighbours face an even more serious COVID-19 problem than we did last year. The fact is every single day in this country we are now accustomed to seeing 60 new cases which was absolutely unheard of when CXC held its exams last year.

“So the idea that we can have last year where they reduced one paper and come this year where the COVID situation is manifestly worst, go back to administering two papers in an environment where the paper 2 can sometimes run a minimum of two hours and some papers go up to three hours, maximizing that level of exposure is a reckless endangerment of the health of students, of the invigilators who are the employees of CXC. It underlines careless disregard for children in this region and for even the employees of CXC,” Kothdiwala said. 

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