Sun | Jan 16, 2022

C'bean teachers' union demands CXC changes amid regional crises

Published:Wednesday | April 14, 2021 | 11:29 PM
Dr Garth Anderson: Would it be feasible and just to have examinations within such a context?

The Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) is urging the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to adjust its syllabus amid the continued impact of COVID-19 in the region and now the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St Vincent.

According to the CUT, the pandemic and the disaster are affecting students' preparation for their CXC-administered exams scheduled for June 1 to July 16. 

“Despite the unusual situation, CXC appears to be proceeding in a business-as-usual manner," said CUT president Dr Garth Anderson.

He added: "It is inconceivable that CXC would want to conduct the 2021 examinations as a full-blown exercise in a period of tremendous challenges to Caribbean societies, families and education systems, and individual students.”

Anderson said students in countries such as St Lucia, Barbados, and Grenada are being affected by the volcano in St Vincent.

"Would it be feasible and just to have examinations within such a context?" he questioned, saying it entire process would be unfair for the students of the region. 

While acknowledging that the CXC has offered students the option of a deferral for one year, the CUT finds that the concession encourages unfairness and injustice. 

“The idea of a deferral of this year’s examination by students who have already suffered will only further aggravate the suffering of these students. The effect of that policy is to force students into a situation of deferring their educational development and putting their lives on hold. These fears are further exacerbated when issues of how these students accepting these deferrals will be assisted have not been addressed,” said Anderson. 

Instead, he wants the 2021 examinations to be rationalised to reflect the current situation.    

It is why the CUT wants a narrowing of the CXC examination syllabus.

It also wants teachers and students to be informed of the topics for the examinations in a timely manner to give the candidates a fair chance at the exams.

The CUT says the CXC needs to act immediately in order to gain the trust of stakeholders.

The body comprises approximately 20 teachers' unions from across the Caribbean representing tens of thousands of educators at various levels of the education system.  

The Jamaica Teachers Association, one of the largest teachers' unions in the Caribbean, represents over 21,000 teachers.

In 2019, the last year before pandemic, approximately 33,000 students sat CXC exams in Jamaica.  

Since March 2021, the Caribbean education system, like in other parts of the world, has been thrown into turmoil by the onset of COVID-19, with face-to-face classes postponed for the most part.  

The alternative, online classes, has fallen short of the objectives of ministries of education in the region, with a significant percentage of students unable to access online learning, for various reasons.    

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