Minister of Education Anthony Garcia said he is not too worried about the ability of students preparing to do exams even after disruptions in the education system caused by coivd19 restrictions.
the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), however, believes the decision to have CXC and CAPE exams on July 13 is "not in the best interest for all."
Garcia spoke to the media after the tour of Queen’s Royal Collage’s covid19 measures, on Tuesday afternoon.
He said, "Our students are resilient, and I have no fear that they will able to perform to the best of their ability.
“The platforms are working reasonably well. We have been able to bridge a gap that would have existed if this was not done. We are hoping that the results will show that what was put in place was not in vain."
Garcia also toured Newtown Girls RC and he said the ministry would visit other schools throughout the week to ensure they are developing covid19 measures to protect members of staff and all students.
The tour was done to ensure that schools were developing plans for proper sanitisation and physical distancing to be implemented at their reopening.
Last week, Garcia announced that teachers and students would be allowed to return to school from next Monday to complete school-based assessments (SBAs) for CXC and CAPE.
Garcia advised that not more than five people be in a classroom at the same time during such exercises.
“A teacher can meet with a class of 25 but can’t meet at the same time. The school is a large place and once social distancing is observed and things are done in line with the advice by the Ministry of Health, we can get things done to put thing in place for CXC students.”
He also announced that CXC moved the deadline for SBAs to June 30.
He said a date for SEA had not been confirmed and the matter was still being discussed. He said the ministry was pleased with the response from teachers and students on it’s efforts to continue learning during covid19 restrictions.
There are also arrangements for private students. “Most of the students who are in the private school have been sent by the ministry because we have a responsibility for those students also. So, any consideration that is given to other students will be given to those in private schools.
“We have lost the third term and we are having discussion on how best teachers and students can make up for that loss. We have been given a number of suggestions both form TTUTA and other associations, including the principal and private schools’ associations and we are looking at all of them."
Garcia also said he is still awaiting feedback from the TTUTA on the decision taken by CXC and agreed to by the Cabinet to begin exams on July 13.
Last week, however, at a Ministry of Education press conference on May 29, when asked if he had spoken to TTUTA about CXC's decision Garcia said he had spoken to all stakeholders, including TTUTA.
He said the ministry had taken "pains to meet and speak with all stakeholders and TTUTA is one of our major stakeholders and we have been having constant meetings with TUTTA."
However, TTUTA president Antonia De Freitas told Newsday on Tuesday that CXC and the ministry had ignored concerns by the association over plans to have the exams in July.
She said the ministry has had no discussions with the association after the recent announcement on the final changes to this year’s CXC and CAPE exams.
“We are very much disappointed because there is evidence to show education has been disrupted worldwide and that is a gap we need to work on before we move forward.
“While they rushing to do the exams, it will widening the gap of inequity because, while our teachers try to reach out to students through the remote learning initiative, the teachers weren’t able to connect with all of them."
She added, “When we realised CXC decided to have exams in July, the Caribbean Union of Teachers had a meeting with the CXC registrar in April. At that time, we voiced concerns about the rush to do the exams seeing we didn’t have things in place and students aren’t prepared to do the exams. CXC didn’t pay attention to our concerns.
“We don’t believe it is in the best interest of all. Yes, there are students who are ready and have been resilient but there are other students who had a range of issues like lack of devices and lack of connectivity and emotional and psychological issues. So, they lack the opportunity to access support.”
She said those issues were factors that contributed to many students struggling to finish SBAs.
She also raised concerns of the removal of the multiple-choice paper.
She said, however, despite the unreadiness of many students and teachers going into CXC and CAPE, teachers will continue to support students as best as they can.