Prime Minister Freundel Stuart tonight told Caribbean Community (CARICOM) agencies which benefit from millions of Barbadian taxpayer dollars, to spend that money prudently.
Delivering the feature address at the official opening of the new state of the art headquarters of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in the Pine, St Michael, Stuart cautioned regional agencies that economic challenges are forcing his administration to be prudent in its expenditure.
“When Barbados provides the headquarters for a CARICOM institution it assumes payment of the rental and related charges,” the Prime Minister informed the gathering of dignitaries that included Minister of Education Ronald Jones, CXC chairman Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and Director-General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Dr Didacus Jules, a former CXC registrar.
“In 2014, Barbados paid approximately $20 million in total contributions to CARICOM institutions which included an amount of approximately $6.6 million for CARICOM agencies based in Barbados, some 13 in number,” disclosed Stuart, who is the current chairman of CARICOM.
Of this sum, Stuart revealed the largest single amount of $1.8 million, including payment of rent, was spent on CXC. He said he was trying to highlight the effort which Barbados has been prepared to make in the interest of regional integration in all areas of functional cooperation and particularly in education.
“When, therefore, Barbados’ commitment to CARICOM is questioned, as happens from time to time, examples like this spanking new CXC building and Barbados’ support for CXC overall, must be given appropriate prominence,” Stuart said.
Stuart also lauded CXC’s achievements during the past 40 years, pointing to its expanded programmes and the international recognition which its assessments have gained.
“In terms of numbers, the Caribbean Examinations Council has grown from a fledging institution that assessed 58,709 candidates in five subject areas in 1979, when the first CXC exams took place, to an institution that now offers a wider range of subjects, I am told as many as 35, at different proficiencies to a greater number of candidates,” Stuart said.
The Prime Minister noted that subject entries had surpassed the 100,000 mark in 1997 and had almost doubled to near
200,000 in 2014.
He further noted that regional candidates can now choose to be assessed in a range of subjects at the levels of Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
Further, in an effort to cater to the needs of the countries in the region, Stuart said CXC now offers additional assessments in the form of the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC), the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) and the Caribbean Primary Exit
Examination (CPEA), as well as the CXC associate degree.
Prime Minister Stuart expressed the view that the establishment of CXC was a visible demonstration of the confidence and self-belief of the leaders and people of the region and their ability to run their own affairs. He noted that while the going was not easy for CXC in its early days, it had persevered in the face of the doom and gloom challenges.