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CXC pressing ahead with exams despite calls for postponement

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Barbados-based Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) says it has no intention of postponing its exams scheduled to begin next month despite calls from local and regional teachers’ unions for it to do so.

“The timing of the examinations schedules was determined following agreement at our council meeting in December 2021 by representatives from participating governments. There are multiple stakeholders with whom the council has to consult and the published schedule for examinations reflects the best consensus attainable. An adjustment to the schedule would destabilise the regional consensus,” said CXC’s Public Relations and Marketing Officer Folayan Taitt.

She said, as a result, the tests will go ahead as previously indicated in CXC’s timetables.

“Further, a delayed start to the examinations would negatively impact the date for the release of results, affecting candidates’ ability to meet the matriculation period for pursuing higher education at universities as well as scholarship application opportunities. In addition, it will compromise the commencement of the next academic year and thus perpetuate the disruptive impact on the education system,” she added.

CXC said that its Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) scheduled for May 2 to June 10 will proceed, while students will sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) from May 2 to June 3; the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) from June 6 to 9; and the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) May 12 and 13.

The council also revealed that the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) assessments will be conducted between May and July and that the specific dates will be determined by individual participating territories.

Last month, president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman called for the postponement of this year’s sitting to allow students to adequately prepare themselves after nearly an entire year of online instructions due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The BSTU is concerned about the timing of the exam, the structure of the exams, the fact that there appear to be few accommodations, if any, from CXC in relation to both of those things, given the experience of the region since the beginning of the school year and the fact that, across the region and more so in Barbados, children have been educated largely through an online modality,” Redman told the online publication Barbados Today.

Earlier this week, Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) called for a delay of the exam timetable by three weeks to allow sufficient time for teachers and students to complete the syllabi and satisfy the school-based-assessment (SBA) component; reduce SBA requirements, especially for subjects with a practical component; and advise of the topics to be covered in the examination.

But Taitt said, “It is CXC’s policy that students may request consideration for cases of hardship within guidelines set out by the organisation,” noting that it has also addressed whether there would be any adjustments made to the process or structure.

Taitt said the reduction in SBA requirements in 2021 was maintained this year, and this year candidates were also given an extension of about six weeks for the submission of the SBAs.

“In addition to the reduction in the SBA requirements and deadline extension, the deferral strategy has been extended for use any time prior to the administration of the subject. Candidates will be able to defer to January or June 2023 whenever the subject is administered,” she said.