By Orville Williams
The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has again come under criticism, this time from President of the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) Dr Garth Anderson, for its plans ahead of the June/July sitting of regional examinations.
Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, CXC adjusted its exam format to include the administration of at least one common paper (Multiple Choice Assessments), School-Based Assessments (SBAs) and Paper 032s (alternative to SBA) for private candidates, and awarding final grades based on the moderated SBAs and Multiple Choice Papers.
Concerning this year’s exams, however, CXC announced last month that they will be written between June 14 and July 16, and will return to their usual format – writing of both the Paper One and Paper Two components, plus Paper Three for private candidates. SBAs, the Council added, would continue to be moderated in this year’s sitting.
Addressing a webinar late Wednesday, Dr Anderson lamented the return to the traditional format, given the sustained impact of the pandemic, particularly on teachers across the region. He also criticised CXC for sticking blindly to tradition, instead of making more progressive decisions.
“CXC is intent on doing things the same way. When we had [a meeting], there was this pushback…as to why these things can’t work and why we don’t have the time. My question was, in [that] meeting, how is it we expect the teachers to do all that you’re asking when we’re all being affected by the same pandemic?
“We seem to be living from some historical legacy – how great an institution [CXC is] – but it’s not a great institution if it fails to respond to the immediate challenges that we have.”
In the announcement of the reversion to the traditional format, CXC assured that consultations were held at the national level, with “recommendations made to the body from the respective territories on their national standpoints”.
The CUT President also referred to these consultations which would have been done with Ministers of Education, saying they need to be pressured – along with CXC – to make decisions that take the plight of the teachers into greater consideration.
“There can’t be a situation where CXC is directing and calling the shots; something is wrong there. We have to put pressure to bear on our policymakers. CXC presents plans, [but the policymakers] eventually vote which plan they are going with.
“While we are castigating – and rightfully so – CXC, we ought to now [pressure] the policymakers. I participated in [the Council for Human and Social Development] COHSOD in the discussions, Ministers took a vote and that was the directive.
“So, we have to work with our minsters and let them know exactly what is happening – students preparing for CXC exams in June are in a worse-off situation than those who sat it in 2020.”