Students of the Antigua State College Liberal Arts Performing Arts department are speaking out against the injustice being meted out to them by the Performing Arts CAPE examination requiring students to break social distancing protocols.
The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) has adjusted its procedures across both CAPE and CSEC examinations to accommodate the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as national social distancing protocols. The Performing Arts CAPE students, however, feel as though their time and needs have been disregarded by the examination council.
The Performing Arts practical exam require the students to organise a professional performance which disregards the students’ need to wear masks and to remain six feet apart, to ensure their health and safety.
Keri-Ann Ramsay, a second year A-Level Performing Arts student, commented on the experience, “We have been cast to the side. A lot of our voices, our concerns, they aren’t heard… We are expected to do practically the impossible and it’s just not fair.”
According to the Performing Arts lecturer, the deadline given for the completion of the exam takes the students from having, at minimum, a month and a half to organise the event, to having less than a month to put out the same level of performance amidst a global pandemic.
In addition to having less time to complete production of the event, they are expected to do so with the upcoming written exams for their other subjects.
The students are to conduct a one-hour show to be graded as their practical exam. However, in light of the pandemic, their worries surround the impossibility of adhering to social distancing protocols while still performing at a standard worthy of a passing grade.
Shaveesa Gasper, another A-Level Performing Arts student, shared her concerns. “I find it to be irrational… You’re asking me to have these productions, be a part of these productions, but I still need to wear my mask at all times. I still need to practice social distancing. So, I’m really confused.”
The students are astounded by CXC’s decision to do away with the CSEC Performing Arts practical exam while the CAPE level exam remains in place, given that CAPE’s requirements of the event are of a much greater scale than those of CSEC.
In a letter directed to Mr. Clare Browne, director of education, the students of the Antigua State College Performing Arts department explained their unfortunate position in detail.
“With these restrictions that are implemented, it is not only impractical, but illegal, to conduct a public event that may garner a gathering of more than 25 persons. This is the requirement for the CXC CAPE Performing Arts production practical exam, and it would be unlawful for us to do such.”
Further on in the letter, they explain that the requirement of face masks and interactions being six feet apart would significantly reduce the quality of the productions as well as the actual grading of their performances, as marks are awarded based on “proximity and intimacy.”
These students are shocked and upset about their circumstances, as they feel the weight of the impossible resting on their shoulders by this exam. They are pleading to have it omitted, or at the very least, revised to accommodate their needs regarding their grades as well as their health and safety.