By Orville Williams
Antigua and Barbuda is among a number of countries set to benefit from a new, “character-building” certification programme being developed by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) announced on Tuesday.
The Caribbean Technical Education Certificate (C-TECH) is being billed as “a broad-based qualification, geared toward character development, technical and applied competencies for employment, entrepreneurship and good citizenry”, according to CXC Registrar and CEO, Dr Wayne Wesley.
Dr Wesley was addressing the inaugural Ministerial Summit on Education Assessment when he made the announcement, pointing to the need to rebuild the systems that struggled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in a sustainable manner, “through innovative transformation”.
“The C-TECH would represent the minimum competency for an individual to perform in society, while providing opportunities for students to continue to pursue the [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] CSEC and [Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination] CAPE at an appropriate time of readiness.
“This, we believe, will create alternative pathways for all candidates as we seek to promote equity with all qualifications issued by CXC,” he added.
One of the primary objectives of the new programme is to reduce the number of secondary school students leaving without certification, an issue that has come under the spotlight in recent years.
Back in 2018, former CXC Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch noted that there was a significant number of students across the region who failed all the subjects they attempted.
He was quoted then saying, “we have over 11,000 candidates who took exams who did not receive any grades 1 to 3 in any of the subjects that they took”.
It is currently unclear just how much those failings extend to Antigua and Barbuda, but based on the word of two educators who wish to remain anonymous, the C-TECH sounds like a programme that could support the efforts of the local education sector.
“I think Antiguan students, for the most part, usually perform well in CXC exams. There are some students who understandably struggle due to their own personal limitations or external factors – like issues at home or experiencing trauma – so something like [C-TECH] could help them by relieving the pressure to perform exceptionally,” one of the educators explained.
The other expressed similar sentiments, saying “I don’t know what stage they’re in with the planning for [C-TECH], but I hope it can be rolled out very soon.
“In my view, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative effect on the passion, the drive and the ambitions of many students, and while we as educators try to rekindle that passion and that drive, I don’t think we can do it alone.
“A systemic change like introducing a new programme could be what we need here in Antigua and Barbuda and I’m sure in other Caribbean countries, to re-engage some students that have been having, and are likely to continue to have, a hard time.”
Observer has reached out to the Education Ministry and the local CXC representative for comment on the potential implications of the C-TECH for Antigua and Barbuda.