By Theresa Goodwin
Local education officials have reached out to the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to request a possible delay in the May/June 2021 exams by a month.
Director of Education Clare Browne said this is to facilitate the completion of the syllabuses that fifth form students are currently using, and to give educators more time to adequately prepare them for the secondary exit exams.
And, during a recent meeting, a number of public school principals and teachers supported the recommendation.
“The principals all agree that we should begin the exams in June/July. That extra month would give an opportunity for students and teachers to complete the syllabuses. The very people who are in fifth form now were in fourth form when we were on lockdown so they would have lost time.
“Right now, many of our public schools are on a shift system as we continue to implement the blended system,” Browne said.
The director acknowledged that while the regional examination body would have to deliberate on the matter before making its decision, a few territories that the ministry has consulted with are in favour of the June/July exams.
“We were fortunate to have reopened schools in Antigua and Barbuda in September, but some schools within the region were not able to reopen; some countries are now examining the possibility of re-opening for the first time for the current academic year. You can imagine those candidates who would have to scramble to try to finish syllabuses to face an examination,” Browne said.
The director of education further explained that the only disadvantage to getting the request approved would be the delay it would cause in the delivery of the results.
He insisted that education officials will try to find ways around this obstacle.
“I know the Antigua State College would have used the transcripts from schools to have students transition from secondary to tertiary level and the college intends to do that this year.
“We hope to get back to normalcy as soon as we possibly can, until such time we want to ensure that we give our children and young people enough time to complete whatever tasks they may have,” Browne said.
The education official is hopeful that CXC will respond within a matter of weeks
Last year, the regional examination body was forced to implement a modified online and offline formats, with multiple choice assessments plus school-based assessments to determine final grades.
Hundreds of students across the region were however unhappy with this format and complained about what they termed unacceptable results for both the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams.
After the flood of complaints in September, CXC set up an independent review team to look into the modified approach which was implemented as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the region.