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Wednesday 13 December 2017
Editorial

Failing grade for CXC

The recent confusion surrounding the release of the CAPE and CSEC results by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) are totally unacceptable and our students and parents deserve nothing short of an unequivocal apology from this supposedly prestigious examinations body.

TTUTA concurs with the Newsday editorial of August 22, in strongly condemning CXC for this fiasco and calls on the examinations body to give some sort of assurance that this will never happen again because it would have taken immediate steps to mitigate against such an occurrence.

The lack of any statement from CXC seeking to clarify the matter or give an explanation to assuage stakeholders is even more shocking and contemptuous.

Our Minister of Education should have by now forwarded a strongly worded letter to CXC expressing his and our Government’s strong dissatisfaction with this state of affairs. Bearing in mind that CXC is a creature of Caricom, regional governments should also be expressing similar sentiments.

It must be remembered that these situations bring the reputation of this regional institution into disrepute and concrete steps should be taken by regional governments to call CXC into account. Someone in authority owes the region an explanation and, if necessary, heads should roll. For too long CXC has and continues to operate as a law unto itself.

It has and continues to institute changes to the structure and format of examinations without consultations with relevant stakeholders. The recent proposal to introduce e-testing without a reality check as well as the introduction of SBAs for mathematics and English A quickly come to mind in this regard.

There is also the vexing outstanding issue of CXC’s refusal to compensate teachers for the marking of SBAs, insisting it is a part of their job. These issues have the capacity to compromise the integrity of the examinations and unfortunately Caricom governments have been woefully silent on the matter.

It is no wonder that this recent development regarding the release of the results comes as no surprise to those involved in the education sector. This has become par for the course from CXC and units of the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) will not hold its breath to expect any fundamental change in the modus operandi of CXC.

Regional governments seem to have given CXC a free hand to do as it pleases without any form of Caricom oversight. While chief education officers (CEO’s) and Ministers of Education in the region meet regularly with CXC, it would seem that these meetings are merely for the purpose of CXC informing rather than gathering feedback. One would certainly hope this is an incorrect impression. As part of CUT, TTUTA would have engaged CXC in many meetings and this experience certainly leads to that conclusion.

The recent introduction of CAPE subjects is a case in point. There are no job descriptions with clearly defined qualifications for people to teach these subjects. This position would have been clearly communicated to our CEO, permanent secretary and Minister of Education when this proposal came forward by CXC.

Yet, despite these protests from the teachers’ union, CXC proceeded to have these subjects introduced. This has legal implications. Teachers have been volunteering to teach these subjects hoping that their academic background would be adequate to the task.

This might be an opportune time for a full review of the structure, role and functioning of CXC to be undertaken by regional governments, given the importance of quality education to the development of the region. After the SEA fiasco now this incompetence from CXC — this is untenable. CXC’s business/profitable model must be called into question.

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