“DEEP ABIDING DISAPPOINTMENT” (We are failing our children, Shame on us all) by Paula Anne Moore
There are few services which have more of a fundamental and intimate impact on most families than education.
There have been several hot topics of late: resumption of face to face school, prayers, the policing of boys’ hair in school, student cellphone use. (Even Rihanna’s pregnant belly and Will Smith’s slap).
What is concerning is what should have been hot topics since Sept 2021: the 2022 CXC exams. (There has also been little public comment on the recent announcements re education reform.)
Re CXC Exams: I feel like this is Groundhog Day. Again. For the 3rd consecutive exam cycle of the pandemic, we are repeating the same mistakes.
Since Sept 2021, our groups have been advocating for material changes to the 2022 CXC Exams to reflect the pandemic challenges and impact on education.
Once again, our group is a voice crying out in the wilderness.
Early Jan 2022, CXC indicated 2022 Exam schedule ‘business as usual’ and there was public silence.
We am deeply disappointed that those authorities and Education stakeholder entities with the power to effect change, from CARICOM/COHSOD, national ministries of education, back down to formal parent groups, did not do more, earlier, this 3rd academic pandemic year, to demand and ensure that there are fair and reasonable 2022 CXC Exams.
Instead, these exams are a ‘business as usual’ MO: usual dates, usual huge syllabi, usual exam structure as if the pandemic never existed. Any changes are cosmetic.
Who is CXC accountable to?
This callousness compounds the still unresolved issues of 2020 and 2021 CXC Grading, which has demoralised thousands of CARICOM children and damaged our reputation as a centre of excellence.
The current Lower 6 group lost nearly 2 months of the current academic year, due to late CXC 2021 Results. Yet Foreign language orals start next month April!
How is a ‘business as usual’ 2022 Exam approach – in the 3rd year of a pandemic – anything but callously cruel? The continued stress on our children and their teachers is truly unconscionable!
Our children have accepted this uncaring unjust treatment as their norm. Many will leave our region if they have the option, as a result. How tragic is that?
But public silence continues.
Yet again, international school exam bodies and education authorities, evidence a contrasting student-focused approach. Eg: the UK exam boards provided a transparent “safety net” for students, taking into account the “disrupting effect of COVID” on student learning: early release of exam content and assurance of more lenient marking, in an attempt to alleviate stress to students and teachers.
This is not ‘a dumbing down’ of exams, it is a demonstration of meaningful responsiveness to the pandemic challenges on education and evidence of reasonable student care.
The UK exam boards were *instructed by their external regulators and education ministries* to ensure 2022 exams were changed to acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on education, and to minimize student stress. It seems in CARICOM approach is the opposite: CXC is allowed to dictate whatever exam structure is in its corporate best interest, not that of students. Does the tail wag the dog in CARICOM? What does our approach say about our brand, our adherence to best practice standards?
Instead, to sadly quote a fellow CARICOM parent:
‘We (CARICOM) doh learn. Every year for the last three years.. the same mistakes by CXC (and COHSOD and national Education Ministries), the same appeals weeks before exams. Hegel was right “the lesson history has taught us is we don’t learn from history”.’
- Ms. Paula-Anne Moore – Parent Advocate Spokesperson/Coordinator
The Group of Concerned Parents, Barbados
The Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress