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Injustice to Kemps Hill students

Published:Monday | March 15, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

I am a veteran teacher who returned to the classroom in Jamaica in October 2008 after teaching in Grand Cayman for six years. I worked at Ardenne High School for 18 years and was head of the Visual Arts Department.

I am writing this letter soliciting your help on behalf of seven students who have been done a grave injustice, and might even have been given a failing grade from the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) that they do not deserve. This is their story.

In May 2009, seven students sat the Caribbean Secondary Exami-nation Certificate test in visual arts from the Kemps Hill High School, located at Race Course in Clarendon. To date, the students have not received their examination results.

Between late May and early June 2009, the principal took the labelled and packaged examination pieces to the CXC overseas examination council in Kingston. He returned with the children's exam work three times, as individuals at the council were not satisfied with how the pieces were labelled.

How were they labelled? Bold lettering that stated clearly what was in each package, the name of the school, the centre number of the school, the number of students and their candidates' numbers.

Unclear instructions

The instructions on how the pieces were to be labelled were only made clear after I called the office to ask them what they wanted. The CXC envelopes that were used for the submission of scripts for core subjects were to be labelled and pasted on the front of the art/craft packages.

When the examination results came out, all seven students got an ungraded mark. The requisite forms were submitted by the examination coordinator to rectify the problem. When nothing happened, I visited the overseas office twice and discovered the following:

(In mid-October), I spent about four hours at the CXC office, as they tried to convince me that they had not received the examination pieces.

The receiving officer at the front desk did not list what he had received when the examination pieces were finally accepted the third time. Consequently, when a paper trail was done, there was no recorded evidence. I was told to get the receipt given to the school official, (when the works were submitted), and take it to them, as it was the only proof that they received the children's artworks.

They finally discovered that when the examination pieces from the other schools were being marked, the artwork of the Kemps Hill students sat neglected in a room. Unfortunately for the students, the person at the desk that day was new, and did not follow the correct procedure.

The examination pieces were sent to Barbados and graded in November 2009. They refused to release the results until the local office paid the penalty for late submission of the children's work.

Normally, the examination pieces are looked at along with the school-based assessment pieces. However, only the exam pieces went to Barbados. I called Bar-bados, and was told by an unoffi-cial source that the students were all given grade four.

No accountability

I am not very happy about the state of affairs that currently obtain in public service, and the notion (or lack thereof) of accountability. I have spoken to the examination coordinator (a vice-principal), the principal, the chairman of the board, two education officers for visual arts and Mr Stephenson at the overseas office.

I have been advised by the chairman and the education officers to write a letter. In every organisation, there is a chain of command, or else we would have more chaos than already exists. That is why all schools have examination coordinators. Would this have happened to students at Ardenne when I was there? Must these students who worked very hard (during lunchtime, and after school and, (each) produced nine pieces of SBA art and craft-assigned work in six months) suffer as a result of ineptitude and the callous behaviour of those in charge of the CSEC examination? Must we leave them bitter and disillusioned in the belief that there is no reward for hard work? Should I listen to my colleagues, who are telling me to accept what has happened and move on?

Everyone has moved on but as I work with my second set of CSEC students here at Kemps Hill, I would like those seven wonderful and hard-working students to reap their just reward.

I am, etc,



Eltham Park

Spanish Town PO

St Catherine