The Ministry of Education is in talks with the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) on a range of fresh concerns from local teachers, including the timeline of this year’s sitting that is set to begin in May.
In an interview on Wednesday, president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union Mary Redman called for the postponement of this year’s sitting to allow students to adequately prepare themselves after nearly an entire year online.
She said the union had expressed numerous other concerns in a meeting with the council, which all appear to have been ignored.
“The BSTU is concerned about the timing of the exam, the structure of the exams, the fact that there appears to be few accommodations, if any from CXC, in relation to both of those things given the experience of the region since the beginning of the school year and the fact that across the region and more so in Barbados, children have been educated largely through an online modality,” Redman told Barbados TODAY.
“The BSTU in our meetings would have asked the CXC to consider having exams later in the year, not starting in May. We know that later exams would mean later results and that is a consequence of the later exam time. But certainly, it allows children to have better preparation and grounding in the subjects… and that also prepares them for further study in those subject areas,” she added.
Redman said many of the practical aspects of the courses could not be properly covered online and the school-based assessment component would not have been able to occur under normal circumstances.
“In relation to SBAs therefore, the BSTU would like to have seen a reduction in SBAs,” said Redman.
The BSTU also expected that CXC would have released the broad topics to be covered in each exam as they have done for previous sittings over the pandemic. The union was also hoping that compulsory exam questions would continue to be excluded.
Redman said the union had also asked for more Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and at least some Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) subjects to be offered during the January sitting to give students who do not feel ready to sit the exams in June an opportunity to do so without having to wait an entire year.
Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Bradshaw, in response to questions from this newspaper, revealed that another meeting with CXC officials has been requested.
“This Ministry of Education values the education that is given to our students and values the education that is provided by our teachers and it is for that reason that last year, when there were concerns with regard to the grades that this ministry met with the CXC to resolve those matters,” said Archer-Bradshaw.
“Those meetings are ongoing, we have asked for a meeting with CXC, we also have the local registrar at the Ministry of Education who is responsible for all matters dealing with CXC and I can tell that Dr [Roderick] Rudder is actively dealing with those matters.
“There have been some questions about the timelines. There are also questions about having broad topics and so on, so those concerns will be raised with CXC, so that we can find some kind of resolution as it relates to our students,” she promised.
The concerns are consistent with those raised in a recent Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) press release issued earlier this week.
“We, the CUT urge the examining body to delay the timetable by three weeks to allow sufficient time for the teachers and students to complete the syllabi and satisfy the school-based-assessment component; reduce SBA requirements, especially for subjects with a practical component and advise of the topics to be covered by the examination,” said the statement.