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CXC – Examine This

Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020. 8:27 am CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Lisa Shoman:“Why is CXC so resolute in its admission of only a paper one examination, when it no longer yields any tangible benefit?”

I can recall vividly that at the start of this pandemic, that students about to sit CXC exams (and their even more worried parents) were assured that any concerns about upcoming CXC exams should be shelved for the moment – and that health, safety and life itself were more critical.

Our own Minister of Education at the start of this crisis reassured parents that these exams would be postponed and promised to keep students and parents informed fully.

Minister Faber said : “For our high schoolers who are concerned about CSEC examinations and our tertiary level students who are concerned about the CAPE exams remember that these exams are regional exams and the regional body responsible for CSEC and CAPE, CXC Caribbean Examination Council is at this time considering adjustment to the exam administration period. Our personnel here in Belize in the Ministry of Education are part of those discussions and once those decisions are finalized we will make every attempt to have Belizeans students and their parents what is expected of them as it relates to these exams. I can tell you now from Belize’s point of view there are several areas that we are now well behind in and because of the closure of school we have indicated that there is no way possible for us to be up to the mark for the timeline required for the current track that these exams will be on and so quite likely this is the position we won’t continue with this timeline.”

Now we hear that CXC exams will take place in July. And that same Minister is now trying to justify things, and to say that he did caution that students should not drop studies and so on and so forth. And he sounds pretty damn lame to me.

What this 17 year old Guyanese student says is absolutely valid. Why announce exams in July now? Why in this format?  For what purpose?

I’m not so old that I can’t remember my own anxiety in 1981 and sitting a total of 12 exams – CXC and GCE O Levels. I recall the sweat, fear and uncertainty. And that was in a perfect year, with students and teachers like Brenda Armstrong, Sr Yvonne Hunter, Jude Lizama, Pads Mendoza, Alice Castillo, Lucy Zuniga and Sr. Christina Escalante pulling together in a smooth rhythm to ensure our absolute preparation and ability to achieve top marks, day after day and many weekends too.

I truly feel for this student and for the parents. COVID19 landed on top of them like a ton of bricks. Not only were classes interrupted, but the very routine of daily life was suspended and the fabric of society rent.

And now comes Council to announce exams are to start less than 2 months from now, in the middle of still active Coronavirus cases in the Caribbean; that CXC exams will be held in July, in an  abbreviated and perhaps devaluated format. Why?

At this time when parents and guardians of students, and indeed the governments of the CARICOM states where these students live are convulsed by the struggle for daily BASIC NECESSITIES and worried about the economic landscape ahead, not to mention still in fear of the continuing spread of this virus, why?

Why impose costly and time consuming exams that are inchoate at best and devalued at worst?

I understand that Belize was represented at the Council meetings where  the matter was discussed and the decision made – BUT BELIZE (the MOE) DID NOT OBJECT to the holding of these exams. Barbados objected. Trinidad and Tobago objected, and they may opt out of CXCs altogether. The Caribbean Union of Teachers objected. The BNTU is a member of the CUT.

One of the matters that was a burning topic at Council was the matter of those  unfinished SBAs that had to be aborted – and apparently more importantly the fees that might have to be returned if exams were not held.

So did the money drive the Council decision??

Some believe that this is exactly what happened.

And YET, in the Jewel and elsewhere in the Caribbean, there are students who have NOT been able to attend any online classes because they have not been able to afford data or internet facilities.

There are parents who are unemployed- and earning nothing at all – the “lucky ones” get help in the sum of 75.00 per week, or Pantry, or some food assistance. They cannot afford exams.

Only students of parents who have means will be able to participate in the taking of these exams. This is discriminatory and inequitable. It is wrong.

Government of Belize does pay  for six of these exams for those persons who have applied – but that date has now passed. So what are desperate parents now to do?

And can the GOB even afford with the massive revenue shortfalls to pay for these force ripe exams?

This is a matter that the BNTU is called on to address with urgency. Our students demand it. Their parents demand it.



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