By Randy Bennett
Students and parents from across the region have lost all confidence in the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), and by extension CARICOM.
That is according to spokesperson and coordinator of the Group of Concerned Parents of Barbados, Paula-Anne Moore, who told Barbados TODAY some students were now opting to pay to do Cambridge examinations rather than participate in this year’s CXC exams.
Her comments came hours after CXC released a press statement today on the 2021 regional examinations.
In the statement, CXC acknowledged the challenges facing St Vincent and the Grenadines in relation to the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.
Additionally, the regional body said it recognised students across the region “might not be ready” for assessment during the June/July 2021 examinations cycle and as a result, SBA requirements had been reduced by as much as 50 per cent.
The examining body has also agreed to share the broad topics to be assessed on Paper 02 for CSEC and CAPE subjects.
This is to be provided to the Ministries of Education on May 10, 2021, five weeks before the examinations, for distribution to all candidates. CXC would also be implementing a facility for candidates who wish to defer sitting examinations.
However, an irate Moore told Barbados TODAY the only new information in CXC’s statements was regarding the volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
She said nothing else in the press statement was new and called CXC’s actions “reprehensible”.
Moore said the regional body’s actions, beginning with its marking and review process of the 2020 examinations, had left a bad taste in the mouths of students and parents.
“What CXC has done is reprehensible in an attempt to spin themselves as looking after the children’s best interest, which is what we have been calling for since September 23, 2020.
“CXC has sought to misrepresent information that was previously presented in February, March and April 9 as new and responding to the volcanic eruption.
“This is not the behaviour of an organisation that holds the best interest of children at heart. We have lost all faith and confidence in CXC.
“I have been speaking to my contacts in Belize and half of the students that would normally write CSEC in Belize are writing the Cambridge [exams] this year.
“There are many students in Guyana, some of their highest-performing academic students have left free CXC administration and are paying to go private to write Cambridge
A levels because we have lost confidence in CXC, we have lost confidence in CARICOM,” Moore said.
“Clearly CARICOM is not independently exercising corporate independent oversight over CXC. They seem to be acting as a rubber stamp and CXC is the tail that is wagging the dog of CARICOM.”
Moore called for the establishment of a watchdog body to independently review and audit CXC.
Student advocate, Khaleel Kothdiwala also expressed disgust at the regional examination body’s most recent statement.
He said the suggestion of deferral was not an appealing option as it meant students would practically lose a year.
“There are absolutely no new recommendations, every recommendation is the same…The deferral date has not changed, the specifics about the deferral have not changed and so there has been no movement whatsoever, but there has been an attempt to make the public believe that there has been an adaptation to the prevailing circumstances. That is not so,” Kothdiwala told Barbados TODAY.
“Deferral remains an unappealing option because no student is responsible for the calamity and the tragedy of 2020 and 2021.
“Our objective now should be to minimise dislocation of the system and allow those students to progress on with their educational journeys. Deferral is to ask them now to delay their education journey further and to further cause dislocation on the education system.”