Separate petitions opposing the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) current CSEC and CAPE examination structure for 2021 have so far garnered almost 30 000 signatures.
Paula-Anne Moore, the spokesperson and coordinator of the Group of Concerned Parents in Barbados, believes the large number of signatures is an indication of the disapproval across the region with the regional body’s decision not to adjust its examinations in light of the difficult situations confronting students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A petition started by the Caribbean Union of Teachers has so far attracted 4 978 signatures, another supported by the Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress has garnered 1 035 signatures, while a petition reportedly launched by students has so far reached 22,905 of its targeted 25,000 signatures.
While Moore explained that there were several petitions in circulation, she said the organisation was only backing those supported by the Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress and the CUT.
She said the Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress’ petition requested engagement and consultation with the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) and CXC by May 7 but did not make any suggestion to remove any component of the proposed examinations.
“The Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress would like to request a meeting with CXC, CARICOM and COHSOD in order to discuss our dissatisfaction with how the 2021 regional examinations are being handled. It is imperative that teachers, students, parents and all examination stakeholders have an input in the decision-making process as the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the eruption of St Vincent’s volcano, continues to make the preparation process volatile and extremely stressful to students,” it stated on the petition website.
“The fiasco with examination results in 2020, in addition to the pandemic and online school has severely affected students’ mental health. Many students are experiencing demotivation and depression and are struggling to prepare to the best of their ability due to the unique circumstances. Furthermore, the IA [Internal Assessment] completion process has been rushed and inadequate resources were provided to students. We look forward to meeting with the powers that be in order to resolve this matter in the best interests of all students and the region,” the statement further added.
It is the latest attempt by students and teachers to persuade CXC to change its planned structure for this year’s examinations.
In a press release last month, CXC said due to the difficulties facing students across the region, especially those in St Vincent affected by the La Soufriere volcano, the examining body had taken the decision to reduce SBAs [School Based Assessments] by as much as 50 per cent, to share the broad topics to be assessed on Paper 02 for CSEC and CAPE subjects with the Ministries of Education for distribution to all candidates on May 10, 2021 (five weeks before the start of the examinations) and to implement a facility for candidates who wish to defer sitting examinations.
However, stakeholders, including Moore, shot down those recommendations while contending that students and parents from across the region had lost all confidence in CXC. (RB)