Acting Chief Education Officer (CEO) John Roopchan could not give a direct answer on Tuesday when asked whether CSEC and CAPE students could find themselves in jeopardy because of the absence of qualified staff to assess the drama component of the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA).
Concerns were first raised by Victor Edwards, retired curriculum co-ordinator of the VAPA unit, who is insisting there is no qualified officer to legally assess the drama examination, so students could fail their examination. He also warned of legal implications that the appointment of unqualified officers for this department could have.
Asked if the students writing exams are in jeopardy, Roopchan responded, “At this time we have some elbow room to ensure that we can put things in place. Many times it’s teachers out there who we can engage in the process, so we have some elbow room and we will contact the relevant personnel on the field and see what we can do.”
The discussion stemmed from an article published in the January 7 edition of the Newsday, headlined “No Visual Arts Curriculum for CAPE,” which spoke of challenges students sitting the 2018 examination face as a result.
Staff at the Education Ministry said there was no need to be concerned, as it had hired a retiree on a temporary basis to oversee this task. To this Edwards charged, “This is nothing more than a blatant lie. The only officer on a temporary basis in the VAPA unit at the Curriculum Division has been on a continual short-term contract since her retirement in 2015.” He said this officer’s portfolio included assessing dance files and interviewing candidates who have applied to the ministry to fill dance vacancies, as well as organising and managing examinations and workshops as they relate to dance and the more general VAPA units at the lower level of the system.
“Of course there are other duties to be performed, such as dance festivals and liaising with institutions that promote dance as performance art. I, however, reiterate and state unequivocally that there is no qualified officer at the curriculum division to organise and manage the business of drama at the Ministry of Education. “There is no one who can legally assess files, conduct interviews or act as the Chief External examiner for CSEC drama and CAPE drama examinations.”
Asked about the claims, Roopchan confirmed that several officers had left at the same time, but said the ministry was working with the Teaching Service Commission to fill vacancies.