Even as UNICEF recognises CXC fiasco? ‘Proverbial Nero still fiddles as Rome and children’s futures burn’

This is a sad sad day for CARICOM and particularly our children.

We are Not Impressed.

We continue to be Embarrassed. Ashamed. As we have been for EIGHT MONTHS. We are Hurting for our stress-ridden children, both from C19 context and CXC’s cruelty, whose pain has been utterly ignored by CXC who has been enabled by CARICOM/COHSOD. Indeed, our children’s emotional and other well-being has been sacrificed on the altar of ‘Exam integrity/equivalency/pedagogical rigour‘.

CARICOM/CXC appears to be proud to be unique worldwide, in being unable to find the innovation, technical ability, responsiveness, to fundamentally amend its School Exit Assessments in response to the C19 pandemic stressors, deep stress of children and teachers, and online schooling challenges and inequities – primary and secondary school – which CARICOM/CXC had at least 6 months to plan for. We have learned nothing from the 2020 Exam Fiasco and apparently plan to make even more mistakes in 2021!

We salute Barbados of Education Minister of Bradshaw for ‘going to the mat‘ for the region’s children. She is bound by and adheres to the protocols governing COHSOD deliberation, but I can confirm from certain of those invited and present at the last COHSOD Meeting, that Minister Bradshaw incorporated our Group of Concerned Parents of Barbados proposals as part of the Barbados representation, and engaged us in the dissemination of a parent and student survey on CXC assessment preparedness.

We appreciate the respect given to students, parents and teachers, and value of our input, appreciated by Minister Bradshaw and her Ministry’s executive team, by engaging us all as important education stakeholders in crafting a collaborative determination of Barbados’ position as it related to the 2021 CXC School Exit Assessments.

Despite what was said at the CXC press conference, CXC may have heard the students and teachers, but they clearly neither listened nor cared, based on their <strong>2021 Exam plans</strong>. And apparently parents are non-existent to CXC, as we were not referenced at all at the press conference!. Apparently one must be part of a formal entity to be '<em>recognised</em>', even in crisis management! Old fashioned '<em>form over substance</em>' is alive and well!

Despite what was said at the CXC press conference, CXC may have heard the students and teachers, but they clearly neither listened nor cared, based on their 2021 Exam plans. And apparently parents are non-existent to CXC, as we were not referenced at all at the press conference!. Apparently one must be part of a formal entity to be ‘recognised‘, even in crisis management! Old fashioned ‘form over substance‘ is alive and well!

Sadly, COHSOD operates via consensus decision making. From its output at its last meeting, and CXC’s decision expressed in the press conference yesterday, and contrary to every single reputable jurisdiction and exam body internationally, CARICOM will continue to torture our own innocent children with THE SAME NUMBER of pre-pandemic in-person exams, *no reduction in syllabii ((in MC Paper 1); and cosmetic PR-driven minor changes: eg most SBA requirements remain *unchanged*; broad topics released far too late to be meaningful, and in many cases regurgitate the entire syllabi topics; deferral ‘option’ which in reality is non-existent and only Barbados has guaranteed tuition for those students who defer (which might explain why so few children regionally have taken that option); a 2 week delay of exams in a pandemic context with infection rates far higher than in 2020 in most countries and with the possibility of further increases in that time – these are elements of the tragi-comedy that is our CARICOM Public education system.

Respective CARICOM governments, if they proceed with these exams as announced by CXC, would have failed in their duty of care and duty to protect from mental, psychological harm, and in countries where C19 rates are exceedingly high (was CARPHA asked to comment on these Exam plans?) and to protect their most vulnerable citizens from C19 exposure.

The 10, 000 children adversely affected by the 2020 CXC Exam fiasco have been ignored. Their pain and injustice ‘swept under the rug’ by CXC and CARICOM..

The 2020 CAPE and CSEC regional merit list, while we congratulate those children on it, rubs further salt in the wounds of the approx 10,000 students whose grade reviews remain unchanged. A merit list which records 160 students ranking as number 1 in a subject, when normally 10 – 20 students annually rank in the entire top 10 regionally per subject, is perhaps further embarassing evidence to CXC that 2020’s Exam grading methodology (still largely hidden) was indeed fundamentally flawed, largely due to ‘grade compression’, inter alia.

We also notice our opposition parties – de facto and de jure- have been remarkable silent during this 8 month CXC fiasco. Don’t you care about this ongoing mis-treatment of our children?

Politicians: We will remember this when you come looking for our ‘x’.

The respected Barbadian educator Mr Ralph Jemmott warned months ago, in a series of articles in Barbados Today epaper, that CXC was at a crossroads similar to where WI cricket was, at its heyday when troubling evidence was emerging that all was not well with the management of our WI cricket team a couple decades ago.

We all know what happened to WI cricket after that.

As a proud Caribbean citizen, I am deeply saddened (and embarassed) by this callous intransigence of CXC, enabled by CARICOM.

Our children who were/are 2020 and 2021 CXC exam candidates have/will pay the emotional and other price now, and we have to nurture and support them as much as we can.

But CXC and CARICOM’s reputation, regionally and publicly, and our public trust therein is damaged, by their utter blindness and lack of responsiveness to the public, particularly our innocent helpless children, they are supposed to care for and serve, perhaps irreparably.

Yours sincerely;

  • Ms. Paula-Anne Moore – Parent Advocate Spokesperson/Coordinator
  • Mr. Khaleel Kothdiwala – Student Advocate/Liason, Barbados

The Group of Concerned Parents, Barbados

The Regional Coalition for CXC Exam Redress

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