Caribbean students to benefit from new CXC/Columbus International Cooperation
Imagine studying authentic Trinidadian steel pan from the comfort of your living room in Jamaica or learning the history of reggae via a teleclass on your mobile in Japan. This is the world that the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) wants to offer in the not too distance future to students across the region with the help of Columbus International (Columbus).
On Thursday, September 5, 2013, CXC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the telecommunications provider Columbus. This new partnership will see the council benefiting from Columbus’ extensive regional fibre optic and broadband capacity, and utilising its digital television platforms to bring cutting edge classes to students across the Caribbean.
This is the vision that CXC Registrar Dr. Didacus Jules has and which he says is now closer to being a reality because of Columbus. “It is going to push us big time into the digital realm. All of our syllabi will now be online. CXC will be able to offer new generation subjects such as CAPE Music, and CAPE Performing Arts.” The educator sees the MOU as a symbol of not just a “material alliance but an alliance of ideas.”
Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice president of sales and marketing for Columbus agrees, stating that “Once our network is fully deployed, every single primary and secondary school that our footprint passes, in countries we serve, will receive free Broadband, free educational Cable TV and discounted Telephony services.”
Javeen Tuitt, a 16-year-old recent graduate who now attends the Antigua & Barbuda ICT CADET programme, welcomes the new offerings from CXC. Tuitt, who is presently studying new media with the focus on photography and editing said, courses, such as the new CAPE Digital Media, are a good idea for students who prefer to be more hands on. “It will give them the chance to learn in a way that is more beneficial. When it is more visual they can understand it better than with a teacher standing in the classroom.”
Global changes and the need for Caribbean students to be more competitive and innovative is driving CXC’s push to utilise digital media to deliver more current and value-based courses. Students will not be the only ones benefiting from this new collaboration with Columbus, Jules shared.
One of the coming initiatives is for the 6000 teachers who mark examination papers annually to be able to do it electronically from home rather than travel to testing centres or to other islands. “It is a logistical challenge each year to move more than 2000 teachers in the span of two weeks across the Caribbean to mark papers. Working with Columbus will allow us to capitalise on their bandwidth access to make this process more cost efficient and seamless,” he explained.
CXC intends to reach out to more stakeholders beyond the various ministries of education. The plan is to utilise Columbus’ capacity to power updated websites with integrated technologies, which will allow the deaf and visually impaired students to be able to access their sites.
“It is extremely rewarding to see how what we offer is translated in the various countries and how young people are transforming their world with our technology,” Yaw Ching said. “We have seen a primary school set up an online radio station. Others have created Wi-Fi zones where lessons are shared on the net, and where teachers create their own teaching aids, using technology. We look forward to seeing what the new generation of courses will bring.”