An unprecedented alliance of students, parents, principals and teachers Thursday demanded CARICOM push the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to deliver long-overdue reviews of the controversial results of this year’s high school exams.
The Caribbean Coalition for CXC 2020 Redress has insisted that the time for action is now with thousands of distressed students waiting for reviews that were promised weeks ago.
In an online press conference that attracted participants from as far as Belize, spokesman Paula-Anne Moore lamented that 12 weeks on, the coalition had had “enough of the long talk, we need decision action”.
She said: “The Caribbean Coalition of CXC 2020 Redress is seeking action and leadership to rectify this situation that has disadvantaged thousands of children throughout the region.
“We are seeking primarily to get the attention of CXC, get the attention of the CARICOM leadership and proceed with rapidity for a prompt redress and resolution so that thousands of these children have the justice that they deserve and that their preliminary grades are reviewed, they are reviewed with transparency and they get the grades they deserve.”
Two students, Barbadian Khaleel Kothdiwala and Adele Scotland of Trinidad and Tobago painted a grim picture of the lingering anguish facing their peers. They told the briefing that the protracted delay has resulted in much despair.
Kothdiwala, the head boy of Queen’s College, said there has been substantial material damage.
He said: “The atmosphere in schools today is palpable with a sense of angst, anxiety and apathy. Really and truly many students view the present situation as if last year we work so hard and the results of that was this calamity then many who are working toward 2021 say it doesn’t make sense.”
Scotland revealed that students from across the region have been reaching out to her, some even discussing suicide.
“It is bizarre to me that despite the evident discrepancy in the results, constant complaining and the protests that CXC has done nothing to assist the students who are suffering from the terrible bouts of depression,” she said.
Joining the news conference were school principals of prominent high schools: Grace Baston of Campion College, Jamaica, Fr Gregory Augustine of Fatima College, Trinidad & Tobago and Simone Tillett, Principal St Catherine College, Belize.
They provided data to demonstrate anomalies in the 2020 results given the historical performance of their schools and students.
They insisted that CXC must better account for the inexplicable fall in the quality of performance of outstanding students.
Tillett asked: “Are the students at the heart of what we are doing? Do all the children of the Caribbean belong to us? If yes then why are some students being disenfranchised?”
Linvern Wright, president of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools concluded the news conference by calling for CXC to fully disclose its revised grading methodology.
He further stressed that CXC must immediately provide to the public its plans to modify the 2021 exam and grade release dates to maintain the students’ wellbeing.
The lobby groups’ call got the backing of education consultant Dr Michael Clarke, a US-based Barbadian educator who was invited to give an “independent” assessment.
He concluded that CXC’s decision to revise its exam methodology which included offering only two papers, Paper 1 and 3, excluding Paper 2 and changing its grading methodology led to the questionable results.
On Monday, CXC said it would provide a further update on the review process next week via a media briefing.