Concerns raised by Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader Mia Mottley that next month’s general election could prove disruptive for students sitting Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams are “baseless”, says Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
After Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced yesterday that the election would be held on May 24, with nominations set for May 7, Mottley, in welcoming the announcement, said she was concerned that the Prime Minister had made a “royal fumble” of the dates since both days conflicted with the preset CXC examinations.
However, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of his annual pep talk to students within his St Michael North West constituency who are down to write the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination on May 8, Sinckler pointed out that it was not the first time that a regional exam and a national poll were occurring on the same day, while harking back to the 1986 elections, which were called by the BLP and won by the Democratic Labour Party.
“I remember in 1986, for example, elections were held on the 28th of May and I was at community college at the time and we had exams. It didn’t disrupt us and there were CXC exams that were going on as well. So the Ministry of Education will handle these things and they are very well trained and experienced in these matters and they will work with CXC to make the appropriate arrangements,” Sinckler assured.
With schools scheduled to be closed to facilitate the polling process, Sinckler further pointed out that “when the CXC re-sit exams are done in January they are not always held in school halls.
“They are sometimes held at the [Sir Garfield Sobers] Gymnasium, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic or wherever. So appropriate arrangements can be made and I think it is really a non-issue, but when you are accustomed to just talking, you say things have no substance to it,” he said, in further rejecting Mottley’s concerns.
“You tend to feel you must comment on everything and you must take every opportunity to throw up a negative. This is part of what the Barbados Labour Party does,” Sinckler said while suggesting that Mottley had no business questioning this decision, which was solely within the Prime Minister’s remit.
“This process is not really about what Ms Mottley wants or what she doesn’t want. The Prime Minister has called the election, as he indicated that he would, and it is well within the time that is stipulated for calling the election. We all knew that it was coming,” Sinckler said.
On Election Day students will sit Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations in Geography, Agricultural Science and Industrial Technology, while there will be examinations in Visual Arts, Music, Electronic Document Preparation, Textiles and Chemistry on Nomination Day.
In a statement released this morning through the Barbados Government Information Service, the Ministry of Education also gave its assurance that no candidate would be disadvantaged as a result of events on the days in question.
“The Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation wishes to advise the general public and candidates who will be writing examinations on Thursday, May 24, 2018, of the arrangements that will be instituted for the administration of examinations on that date,” the statement said, explaining that “all external examinations will take place as previously scheduled and will be administered in strict compliance with the regulations and procedures of the respective examining bodies.
“Candidates are, therefore, required to report early to their respective examination centres as specified on their timetables,” the ministry advised.
It also urged all candidates to “carefully follow the instructions that will be issued by the supervisor of examinations at each centre.
“This is very important since there will be special arrangements to be implemented at each centre to facilitate the entrance, controlled movement and exit of candidates and other examination officials during the day’s examination period,” it said.
“The ministry wishes to assure the public and candidates that all steps have been taken to ensure safe and secure conditions for the administration of all examinations so that no candidate will be disadvantaged as a result of any events on that date,” the ministry added, while stating that it was looking forward to the cooperation of all parties involved in the writing and administration of examinations on Thursday, May 24.