Principals want physical schooling for CXC exam students

In this file photo, masked Presentation College students leave the San Fernando school after CXC exams on July 7. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
In this file photo, masked Presentation College students leave the San Fernando school after CXC exams on July 7. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

TWO principals are hopeful that the Ministry of Education finds a meaningful solution for a steady return of physical schooling of students scheduled to sit major examinations.

The comments came after the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) released Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination results on Friday.

While they said they have not thoroughly analysed their respective results, adapting to online learning and its challenges that came contributed significantly.

Principal of Presentation College in San Fernando Dexter Mitchell said their results could have been much better if there were physical schooling.

“There are some students who did very well, I also saw evidence of students who were affected by the pandemic not performing well. I did see students affected by not being in school.

“While the students would have passed, the results could have been much better if there were face-to-face classes. At the CSEC level there was consistent performance, where 118 boys got five or more subjects,” he said.

Dexter said online challenges vary and it was not just looking at connectivity issues or lack of devices, but there were also socio-economic issues that needed to be taken seriously.

Despite the unexpected results, Dexter was hopeful for some scholarships and bursaries at the CAPE level.

Queen's Royal College students head home after face-to-face classes in Port of Spaiin on October 14 - Photo by Roger Jacob

The principal at Queen’s Royal College, David Simon, said while they were not able to compare last year and this year’s results as yet, their examination performances were mixed.

“We are seeing some good performances and we are seeing some performances that could have been better. The situation is what it is, but I think many of the boys and the teachers prefer to be out. The hybrid system is challenging.

“Like every other school in TT there was a bit more absenteeism than when there was regular physical schooling. I can't say if it increased from last year to this year,” Simon said.

On Thursday CXC reported a high level of absenteeism in the CSEC and CAPE examinations, throughout the region.

CXC director of operations Dr Nicole Manning on Thursday said 8.3 per cent and 11.23 per cent of students did not show up for their CAPE and CSEC examinations, respectively.

President of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Antonia De Freitas via a WhatsApp message on Saturday said that, “The pandemic impacted students significantly. Countries need to decide what mechanisms they will put in place to analyse such and support students.”

A student from a school in east Trinidad, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was disappointed by her CSEC results and attributed it to a lack of practical learning opportunities.

She described herself as a hands-on learner rather than a note taker, and said her results for biology and chemistry, two of the six subjects pursued, were poor.

“To the lead up of the exam it was really stressful because of the online classes, I think there were many disadvantages such as connectivity, but the hardest was when lab times were cut short.

“Most of the teachers did not provide notes and it was difficult to follow, especially for the science subjects and mathematics,” the student said.

She added that the feedback from her classmates and friends was also disturbing and the students who pursued practical courses like technical drawing and physical education were very disappointed with their results.

The student added, “I think our results would have been better if we were in school rather than online learning.”

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, contacted on Saturday for comment about the results, said via a WhatsApp message that a media release would be issued next week.

On Friday, she said the country was proud of all candidates completing their examinations during the ongoing covid19 pandemic.

“Everything was online, and I want to say to them we feel, as a country, very proud of you for making that step (and) for coming out and getting your exams done. It was important for us as country to ensure our students had this chance to go forward.”


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