Mon | Dec 4, 2023

CPFSA toasts shining stars in CSEC, CAPE exams

Published:Saturday | January 28, 2023 | 12:13 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
Warren Thompson, director of children and family programmes at the CPFSA.
Warren Thompson, director of children and family programmes at the CPFSA.

When Teana heard that she was successful in all eight of her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, she was ecstatic.

The 18-year-old, who has been a ward of the State for nine years, views her academic success as vindication of her struggles.

She told The Gleaner that transitioning into state care was advantageous for her as it served as motivation for her to do well.

“People always seh, ‘Living in state care, yuh nah come out to nothing good ‘cause yuh nuh have no mother’. They have all kinds of negative comments about wards. I just made my mind up that I’m just going to let what dem seh be a positive and motivate me because I know that is not true,” she said.

Teana was one of 39 students in state care who were recognised for their outstanding CSEC and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) performance by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) at its Educational Achievement Awards Ceremony at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel on Thursday.

The students recognised attained four or more passes at the CSEC and CAPE levels.

“I am so grateful that it’s not me alone, and the journey of success is not me alone. There are also others,” Teana said.

The avid reader, who enjoys watching documentaries in her leisure time, aims to become a lawyer to defend and seek justice for the marginalised in society.

It is stories like hers that Michelle McIntosh Harvey, director of financial management and accounting services at the CPFSA, says drive home the importance of the ceremony, which was having its eleventh staging, with parents and caregivers also in attendance.

And although McIntosh Harvey said the COVID-19 pandemic affected the passes for the May-June 2022 examination period, the wards’ successes still ought to be celebrated.

A total of 146 youth in state care sat examinations, including the City and Guilds. It was the lowest number of state wards sitting exams in three years. Forty-five gained four or more subjects at the CSEC and CAPE levels, and 62 received fewer than four passes.

McIntosh Harvey said that the CPFSA would continue to support the students who desire to pursue higher education.

“Those who have gone on to universities, we continue to assist them and we continue to pay fees as well just to ensure that we maintain what we are responsible for in terms of when they leave us [so] they can survive in society and contribute,” she said.

She revealed that more than $40 million was spent on tuition fees last year alone.

Twenty-year-old former ward Megais Simpson is currently pursuing a degree in banking and finance.

He said that his childhood served as motivation for him to do well, and while in sixth form at the St Elizabeth Technical High School, he got a glimpse of what that meant when he was awarded for first in the island for financial services.

Another ward, Okerie, gained 10 CSEC subjects and was awarded top student in the southern region of the CPFSA.

The 17-year-old said he was overwhelmed.

“I’m enjoying it because the amount of work that I put in it is actually paying off, and I thank the CPFSA for acknowledging excellence. It pushes wards to try to accomplish something great,” said the youngster, who aspires to be an orthopaedic surgeon.

Warren Thompson, director of children and family programmes at the CPFSA, said more than $2 million was spent to offset the cost of the CSEC and CAPE exams for the students in state care.

But he said the investment was worth it as the agency is seeing favourable outcomes as it works to curate a culture of excellence through targeted programmes and initiatives that will provide them with needed support.

“This is indeed a proud moment for us to witness you navigating your voyage of success through hard work and determination. You have toiled long and hard and you have been successful,” he told them.