Free legal representation to take on Education Ministry, CXC

File photo: Parents of CSEC and CAPE exam students staged a protest in October 2020 outside the Red House calling for action by CXC over perceived discrepancies in the grades the students were given. PHOTO BY JEFF MAYERS
File photo: Parents of CSEC and CAPE exam students staged a protest in October 2020 outside the Red House calling for action by CXC over perceived discrepancies in the grades the students were given. PHOTO BY JEFF MAYERS

SEVERAL parents have come together to put pressure on the Ministry of Education to take legal action against the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).

Parents and students across the region have been upset since September last year after receiving less than satisfactory Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) grades.

After demanding their scripts be remarked, most students received new results, but for many of them their grades remained unchanged.

Parents have received an offer of free legal representation from attorney Gerald Ramdeen to put pressure on the ministry to take CXC to court.

Similar action is being taken against CXC by parents and students in Barbados.

In a flyer obtained by Newsday, local parents were being asked to just pay out of pocket expenses incurred by the attorney.

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray has joined the parents in their effort. He said his daughter is among one of the affected CAPE students.

Paray said, “CXC is protected from legal action by ministries of education in the respective jurisdictions.”

He said he raised the issue with the minister and the ministry during parliamentary debates and felt the minister could have gotten more involved and put more pressure on the council to properly re-mark students’ scripts.

“What CXC did was a recount of marks to make sure they were correct. What parents were asking for is a reassessment based on the old rubric. That did not happen.” He said the majority of students have remained with the same grade, even after paying to have their grades re-marked.

He said the lawsuit is going to require the filing of hundreds of freedom of information access forms to get the scripts of the affected students. This will then be followed by legal action against CXC to re-examine its process.

Paray referred to a High Court ruling last year where the parent of a Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) student challenged the ministry’s decision to deny her a copy of her daughter’s 2018 exam script.

“The high court ruled that the student owns the script and CXC…cannot hide that from the students. The court instructed the ministry to provide the students with the script.”

Ramdeen was one of the attorneys representing the mother in that case.

He said parents are looking at two things: correcting the flaws of the 2020 exams and ensuring that it does not occur in 2021 and 2022.

He said over 200 parents have come forward so far, and the team is getting 30 to 40 new parents coming forward every day.

Ramdeen said he stayed in the background of the protests because of the politics.

“I didn’t want this to turn into a (political) thing and lose the focus of the children and the issue.”

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