EACH YEAR CXC offers over 25 CSEC subjects with most of these subjects having an SBA component. In 2015 the English and mathematics syllabuses were adjusted to include an SBA component. These SBAs generally are projects that contribute to, on average, 20 per cent of a candidate’s overall score. The SBA is therefore a critical element of a student’s grade.
During the months of January to March, most teachers are plagued with the pressures of SBA marking. Teachers say this “extra workload” often becomes untenable for the simple reason that there is insufficient time allotted to the timetable to perform dual duties – SBA and non-SBA work/regular duties.
Teachers have little alternative but to take work home to meet deadlines set by the Ministry of Education and CXC and as a result teachers face consistent tension and anxiety. Associated tasks range from initial contact with students, to supervision, to marking and inputting scores in various formats. Additionally, the SBA workload is particularly acute when the teacher is responsible for more than one subject.
The TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) takes issue with a news release entitled “Benefits of SBAs” by the ministry dated March 13. In this release the association is accused of being “highly irresponsible” with respect to its position on the marking of SBAs.
The ministry seeks to create paranoia among students and parents by suggesting that there will be the failure of “thousands of students” and the potential to “negatively impact opportunities for scholarships and admission to tertiary education institutions.”
At TTUTA’s 38th Annual Conference of Delegates in October 2017, two resolutions that dealt with SBAs were passed. One resolution mandated that legal recourse be taken to obtain a final interpretation on the marking of SBAs given the consistent refusal of the CXC to entertain the payment of teachers while the second resolution called on teachers to not mark any newly introduced SBAs, including mathematics and English A, with immediate effect.
The association is still in the process of doing the necessary background work before the full implementation of the resolutions can occur. The association is aware that teachers are currently in the process of marking SBAs and submitting marks and does not intend to call on teachers at this present time to stop this process. If or when the decision is taken to advise teachers to not mark SBAs, ample notice will be given. For the ministry to describe TTUTA’s current position as “highly irresponsible” is preposterous.
The association notes that the ministry in its release attempted to give the public the impression that marking of SBAs is the job of the teacher. The job description of a teacher provides for the marking of internal examinations set by the teacher and arranged by the school.
However, SBAs and internal assessments are part of the evaluation of the CXC, an external agency charged with the responsibility of examining Caribbean students at the Forms Five and Six levels. The CXC is not the employer of the teachers of Trinidad and Tobago and cannot demand that teachers work for them for free
The association further notes that the job description clearly states that the teacher’s responsibility is for internal examinations. Teachers have been assisting the CXC for almost four decades and it is time that this exploitation stops. Teachers are not the employees of the CXC, therefore any work done for them must be paid for by the CXC, separately from the salary paid by the ministry.
The Caribbean Union of Teachers, of which TTUTA is a member, has been advocating for some time now for the payment for the marking of SBAs. Meetings have been held with the CXC on this issue to no avail. In at least one Caribbean country teachers have refused to mark SBAs while there have been calls in other Caribbean countries for teachers to follow suit.
TTUTA reiterates that teachers must be paid for the marking of SBAs. The days of slavery, where labour was forced and unrewarded, are over. TTUTA will re-examine its position on this at the beginning of the academic year 2018/2019 and will advise our members accordingly.