By Carlena Knight
Education officials in the region are calling on the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to be more open and fair, specifically in the way it has been making decisions about the annual exams.
Principal of the Ottos Comprehensive School (OCS) Foster Roberts was one official who encouraged the body to listen to the region’s educators who have aired several concerns since the announcement that CSEC and CAPE exams will take place this summer.
“I am just hoping that CXC would really be hearing and listening to the voices of the Caribbean people that it serves, because it is really and truly not an entity unto itself, and so because it serves the people of the region, it has to also listen to the voices of the people and act accordingly.
“At the end of the day, if that is the examining body that is going to be adjudicating against all of our children, then it must do so within a sort of fairness so that everybody at the end of the day will feel accomplished as they would have gone through the process and the process was really fair to all of us. So right now, they really need to ask themselves if they think that they are really being fair to Caribbean people,” Roberts said.
Head of the Barbados Secondary School Teachers’ Association, Mary Redman, also spoke on the record and accused CXC of using this pandemic as an excuse to push its own agenda.
“I want to say that CXC must not use the excuse of our Covid-19 reality now to seek to introduce e-testing across the region that is not ready for it, and to impose that type of testing three years in advance of their own projected timeline that they have been trying to enforce on Caribbean territories.
“I want to say to Caribbean governments that it is high time that they indicate to CXC who pays the piper and, as a result of that, who should be playing the tune.”
She further called on the regional body to clarify how the breakdown of its more than $50 million budget will be allocated now there’s only multiple choice papers and SBAs.
“I want to know to what extent CXC is willing to reimburse students and governments of the Caribbean for the difference and refunded difference between what they have charged to correct a three-part exam as opposed to the money now being used to correct only a Paper One and the marks of the SBAs that were being done free for them across the system by teachers in schools.
“I want to know what part of the over $50 million budget for this year had been allocated for the payment of persons to correct Paper Two and what they will now do with that budget.”
Both officials went on to question the authenticity, structure and validity of the proposed exams this year.
According to both Roberts and Redman, Paper Two carried the largest percentage of the grades and offered students who were stronger at expressing themselves a better chance than those that were savvy at multiple choice.
“So, a child gets a grade one now on a mathematics paper that only has two papers. The SBA and Paper One, that child receives a grade one. Is that grade one equivalent to a grade one a child would have received in the last sitting?
“Those are some serious concerns because here it is that our children will need these results to move on to universities. Everybody will not go to the University of the West Indies. Will those tertiary institutions accept those results of CXC for this academic school year?
“This may be a bit controversial, but I said that if CXC hadn’t already had my money for my students, I would have given back all the money to my parents because I don’t think that CXC is doing any justice to their children,” Roberts said.
CXC did not respond to requests for comment up to press time.