Exam cohort smaller as COVID turns screws – ministry
The Ministry of Education is reporting a general decline in the number of students who have been registered this year to sit exit exams.
Dr Kasan Troupe, acting chief education officer (CEO), responding to a query from The Gleaner at Thursday’s press launch of the 5th International Conference on TVET in the Caribbean 2021, said that as students were given the opportunity to defer sitting exams this year, the cohort doing CSEC and CAPE would be smaller than in previous years.
A request for data on the number of students sitting the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) exams this year compared with pre-COVID numbers, was yet to be supplied by the education ministry up to the time of publication.
Troupe also highlighted that 16,000 students have registered for the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) programmes this year compared with 14,845 last year.
More than 20,000 students registered for the City & Guilds, which includes some of the vocational areas as well.
Troupe said that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted teaching and learning, particularly for those pursuing technical and vocational areas, because students relied on school labs to have the SBAs completed. Most schools have remained closed since mid-March when Jamaica recorded its first COVID-19 case.
The acting chief education officer said that the students also relied on hands-on mentorship and coaching from teachers.
“I would admit that they would have been severely affected, especially at this time within the remote experience,” she said.
Troupe said that the ministry had invested in professional development courses for teachers.
“At the onset of the pandemic, we collaborated immediately with UNESCO and they pulled on a lot of global experiences and expertise within the global sphere to benefit the Jamaican education system,” she said.
Troupe said that heads of departments in the technical and vocational areas participated in a series of training programmes for them to understand how to use the virtual platforms so that students would not be left behind.
“We would have seen where our partnership with NCTVET moved from just asking the students to be able to demonstrate things in the lab to project-style activity where they are actually taking the assessor step-by-step through what they would do.”
A senior official at the HEART NSTA said that while the pandemic has impacted the institution’s programmes, the training agency has used a blended approach while observing the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ protocols on COVID-19.
“Some of our institutions have been having very small groups, so we bring the trainees in and we have them observe the social distancing, wearing the mask, doing the sanitising, and in that way we are able to do the practicals,” said Dr Marcia Rowe-Amonde, senior director – standards curriculum and learning resources at HEART NSTA.
She said that the training institution has also invested in audiovisual material and engaged stakeholders to produce videos to provide step-by-step pointers to trainees.