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The APNU+AFC Coalition said that it was during its five-year tenure that a solid foundation was laid for the improved performance of students at this year’s National Grade Six Assessment. And while it congratulated students for their sterling performance, the opposition said this has been tainted by the frequent visits to the marking sites by Education Minister Priya Manickchand whose daughter wrote the exams. The minister’s daughter amassed 520 marks and was awarded a place at Queen’s College.
In its statement the coalition said it noted with great concern the number of unnecessary public comments and attention surrounding the integrity of the results, owing to inappropriate and irresponsible, if not improper conduct, administration, and management of the assessment by senior functionaries. “We point to the many reports of the Minister frequenting the marking site. The Minister should have known that this was inappropriate and should have been sensitive that this can be interpreted as possible abuse of the prestige of her office. We find the actions of the minister deeply disappointing as it could have brought the entire process into disrepute,” the statement read.
The coalition said it is well understood that it is not normal for professionals to be so involved in examinations when their children/relatives are sitting the same exams. “We believe that established norms should have allowed those senior staff at the MOE (CEO and Superintendent of Exams/ Local Registrar) should have recused themselves from the examination environment.”
Back in August during one of her visits to a marking sister at Tutorial High School
Manickchand, according to Department of Public Information release outlined and reinforced the roles of these teachers in the process and asked that their efforts produce results that cannot be questioned.
On Wednesday, August 18, 2021, Minister Manickchand also visited other locations to engage the 210 markers for the four subjects, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and English. These markers and table leaders are teachers mostly of primary schools and are employees of the CXC examining body.
She implored markers, according to the DPI release to pay attention and be careful with the duty they have agreed to perform. She said that the outcome is to have accurate results which will depend on how much care they take in their marking. She told them that if they needed to ask for clarification a dozen times they must, as the children they are serving are depending on them to award marks earned and particularly because the questions may produce answers from “the lived experience” of children and no examining body in their typical answer key could cater for all that children could experience and therefore write. She referenced results over the last five years whereby reviews resulted in changed marks and school placements. Last year alone 30% of the reviews resulted in changed grades. The Minister reminded that not every parent knows of the review process, can access it on time and pay the requisite fee to get a review so even more resolve is necessary that not a single mistake will be made in this originating process.
She said that such an occurrence does not augur well for the integrity of the examination system which can lead to distrust by parents, students and the general public in the system.