The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Paula-Anne Moore – Parent advocate spokesperson/coordinator The Group of Concerned Parents, Barbados.
The Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress.
Khaleel Kothdiwala – Student Advocate, Barbados.
Do we care for our children? How do we show it? One year after ‘The 2020 CXC Exam Results Fiasco’ ( to quote Ms M Redman, BSTU): An assessment of the 2021 CXC CSEC and CAPE Results.
‘Care’ is a verb. Therefore a ‘doing’ word. How do we demonstrate, by our actions, that we care for our children re our school exit assessment exams?
We are in the process of gathering further information, nationally and regionally, and will defer a more fulsome comment on the 2021 CXC Results until that process is complete. We also are pleased to have been invited by the Minister of Education and her Chief Education Officer to attend an innovative and productive post-mortem meeting of relevant stakeholders including senior management of the Ministry, parents and students, re the 2021 CXC results, which can only add value and insight to the Ministry’s representation of our students’ best interests.
We thank the Ministry for that recognition of our constructive advocacy for our nation’s children, and their receptive perspective, to the concerns of the national education stakeholders.
There was an expressed commitment by the Ministry to leading the national engagement with CXC to advocate for better communication, accountability and fairness for disadvantaged students re 2020 and 2021 CXC Exams, as well as advocate for the optimal earliest planning for the 2022 Exams.
Our Immediate top line assessment of the challenges
re 2021’s CXC CAPE and CSEC Results:
1. There are certain subjects and schools where grades are again significantly depressed, though nowhere near the widespread scale of 2020. That does not lessen the distress of those children negatively affected. There are some grades which are still outstanding, which the children were not aware would be further delayed. That adds to their stress.
2. We are concerned re the emotional and mental effects of all the candidates, and especially these adversely affected children, if again not satisfactorily addressed by CXC. The children are numb, demoralised .
The anxiety resulting from the delay and manner in which the results were released was profound for many, on top of the 2020 – 2021 exams, results and all within the context of the prevailing pandemic conditions .
What message are we sending: there is no point trying
to excel? Are we demonstrating that we care for our children? What will be the effects on our children, our future: our national and regional growth and development? Brain flight? The diminution of our regional brand and credibility?
3. We are comforted that any grades reviewed by CXC will not be downgraded. That is a significant concession from CXC for which we lobbied the (Independent Review Team) ‘IRT’, was so recommended and CXC adopted, effective 2020.
4. CXC needs to significantly improve its exam output, planning in the face of the pandemic (2022 looms!) and its reporting thereon, quality assurance of its grading output, transparency, stakeholder engagement and responsiveness, and communication to the public it serves, as we have consistently insisted, and as the IRT recommended.
We further reiterate that it is fundamentally unfair that, in this difficult pandemic prevailing financial situation, that parents will be asked to pay for reviews of grades, clearly flawed due to systemic challenges, whether they emanate from CXC or external to CXC in the ‘regional education ecosystem’.
We congratulate all the exam candidates, their teachers and parents for persevering with two years of high stakes in-person school exit exams, a unique situation when compared internationally. We wish current students continued strength and grace and they pursue what is for many their 3rd academic year of the pandemic.
We further thank the staff at CXC who try their best, particularly in these uniquely challenging times. We are proud of the international reputation that CXC has earned, as a regional institution, and wish to assist it in living up to that legacy. External independent regulation is essential.
We need to ask ourselves why our national and regional love affair with high stakes exams is so intense that we are prepared to subject our children to such stress *twice* during a pandemic, when most other countries have found alternatives, which may not be pedagogically perfect, but, in fundamental recognition of and response to the pandemic stressors and context, keep children safer physically and mentally. This imperative: to protect our children, should be the North Star of us all as a modern caring society.