The Minster of Education, Anthony Garcia announced that his ministry is going to send a formal request for representatives of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) to visit the country. He said this yesterday after meeting with principals of all secondary schools in Trinidad. A meeting with teachers and principals in Tobago is to be scheduled.
He stated, “The meeting was called to address the concerns expressed by principals with respect to the fiasco of the late release of results.” He said that schools have been encountering various issues with CXC over the past few months. He added that the intention of the ministry is not to degrade the regional body, however, “It is our responsibility to ensure that the integrity of the examination is maintained and we must ensure that the public confidence in the body is regained.”
“We are going to make a request with officials of CXC to visit Trinidad and Tobago so they can give us a first-hand view of the causes of the difficulties we have been experiencing,” Garcia said. He added that their visit can reassure all stakeholders that the regional body is taking the necessary actions to ensure the same problems do not occur in the future. Garcia stated that the problems stated by principals are to be relayed to CXC so both the regional body and Ministry of Education can work together avoid similar occurrences in the future.
He added that principals were happy to be given the opportunity to voice their concerns. “As the practising professionals in the field, we wanted to dialogue with them and use their advice as we move forward in our pursuit of delivering quality education.”
Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan stated, “Some issues principals highlighted were the lateness of results, concerns about the e-marking process, recruitment of markers for that process and the monitoring of quality assurance, issues related to proposed online testing and the readiness of schools for online testing.” He added that timely communication from CXC to schools was also a concern and one principal believes that multiple choice questions should be more readily available.
Seecharan explained that the call for an official visit is not unprecedented as this interaction has occurred in the past. “CXC has visited our shores before, in fact a senior representative was in the country the day after the SEA problem.” He added that the correct approach would be to allow CXC to explain the challenges they face and find out what are the contributing factors before decisions are made. “One challenge we are aware of is the traffic on the website.”
Seecharan stated that the ministry also took the opportunity to address other issues as the opening of the school term nears. Matters involving increasing the efficiency of the school feeding and the school transport programmes as well as promoting discipline in schools were discussed.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Dr Lovell Francis said, “Even though it was as session where a lot of grievances were aired, it was important for us as a ministry in terms of how we related with the schools.” He added that one criticism is the ministry had been disconnected from the daily running of the education system. “We therefore decided that we would get more intimately involved with all stakeholders.” He assured that there is no divide between the ministry and schools. “We are all on the same page,” he said.