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– chairman says public trust key in council going forward
Chairman of the Caribbean Examinations Council, Professor Hilary Beckles said that each and every formally reported case of discrepancies in the grades of students will be reviewed and where necessary there will be remedies.
Students in a number of Caribbean countries have complained about the results of this year CSEC. In a statement on Monday Beckles said concerns raised in the public domain with respect to the efficacy of procedures and systems used by the Council in its computation and declaration of student performance data are of great importance to the organisation. He said the Registrar, Dr Wayne Wesley, and his team have met with regional Ministers of Education in order to discuss these concerns and identify the underlying causes with a view to moving forward and providing clarity to our stakeholders and enhanced support.
“CXC is satisfied that ministers have received explanations for its positions in light of the public discourse. It is understood that while there might be policy and technical issues to be addressed immediately, the maintenance of public trust going forward is paramount.”
He said too that there will be ongoing dialogue with regional Ministries of Education based upon the official gathering of data relevant to all ventilated concerns. “Each and every formally reported case will be reviewed and where remedies are required they will be applied. Management at CXC has been impressive in the delivery of the July 2020 regional examinations within the context of the COVID-19 logistics nightmare, and crippling global doubt about revised examinations systems and procedures. I commend the team at CXC for their effort to serve the best they can – the people of our region,” Beckles said.
Nonetheless, he said it was anticipated that given these specific challenges a period of review and possible revisions would follow, consistent with the regulations of the Council. It has been agreed, therefore, that an Independent Review Team will shortly begin this work and present a report for discussion with relevant stakeholders.
Last week Guyana’s top school, Queen’s College (QC) and other sister schools in Georgetown vowed that they will not rest until the inconsistencies coming out of the recent Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)-facilitated exams are rectified and students are given their deserved Grades.
QC’s Principal told the media last Thursday that everything possible will be done, even if means taking legal action or removing the school from writing the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination. The matter is in fact a regional one as CXC facilitates examinations in multiple other Caribbean countries which have expressed similar distraught with the discrepancies noticed in their results.
Queen’s college, over the years, has consistently produced Guyana’s top performing students in the aforementioned exams. In 2019, it was QC student Michael Bhopaul who topped the Region in CAPE, previously topping the country in 2017 in CSEC. In 2018, the school produced the country’s top CSEC student, Christian Pile with 19 Grade Ones.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Council revealed earlier in the year that the Paper Two would not be administered, and grades will be determined by the candidates School-Based Assessments (SBA’s) and their performance on Paper One. Electronic testing would also be administered online to replace paper-based tests. Over $15 million was forward to CXC by QC alone as payment for students taking the exams. However, with the grades now raising several questions and causing regional distress, people are angry that the Council has not addressed the matter head-on and but has instead directed candidates to make further payments for individual subject reviews.
Principal of Queen’s College, Jackie Ralph told the media that she had been unable to sleep for the last 72 hours due to the distress that the shocking results has caused her but, more so, students in Guyana, their educators and their parents. “I would have spoken with the Minister of Education and I know that she would have released a statement earlier today. She intends to stand behind us and we intend to — together with our other partners in education — take his matter to the very end with CXC. If it means that we have to go towards the legal way, we will do that. If it means that we will petition to remove this college from writing CAPE and CSEC, we will have to do that. If it means that we will have to go forward to CARICOM and speak to the representative for education there to take this matter up with the Council, we will do that,” Ralph assured students and parents gathered at the school.
She said that, thus far, over 100 cases of discrepancies have been noted from QC. Though CXC has not yet published the official broadsheet of all results, the school has been able to gather information from its individual students. “It is with great disappointment that we have observed our top performing students in Guyana– top one percent– who appear to have underperformed in certain specific subject areas,” Ralph said.
“We have, over the years, tracked our students’ performances and what I can say to you [is] we know that our students have not received the expected grade that we have predicted. We are not prepared to accept the position that CXC has taken and we intend to pursue this matter vigorously.”
Some of the subject areas listed for which students have received questionable grades are Integrated Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Pure Mathematics Units 1 and 2, Additional Mathematics, Geography, Social Studies and more.
President of QC’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Michelle Fraser, giving an example of the discrepancies observed said that for Integrated Math, in 2018, the College got 38 Grade Ones; in 2019, 36 Grade Ones and in 2020, zero. For the same subject, in 2018 the school received 6 Grade Twos; in 2019, 9 Grade Twos and, in 2020, zero. “This kind of trend has presented itself over and over. When we looked further afield from QC we heard the same kind of trends. This is unacceptable, we will not accept it and we intend for CXC to understand that we will not accept it,” she said.