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Belize’s representative from UNICEF joins regional counterparts in pleading with Caribbean Examination Council to adjust this year’s examinations due to the impact of COVID-19

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Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2021. 6:29 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: Representatives of the United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF) from four Caribbean countries have called on the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) to make adjustments to this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations in light of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on students this school year.

According to Barbados Today, Aloys Kamuragiye, for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Alison Parker of Belize, Jamaica’s Mariko Kagoshima, and Nicolas Pron for Guyana and Suriname,  recommended that the regional examining body make adjustments to the content and administration of the exams to ensure students are not disadvantaged.

“Our main concern is the low level of preparedness (academically and psychologically) of many of the thousands of 16–18-year-old students across the region to sit the exams. In this context, requiring students to sit an examination that includes components that cover an entire two-year course of study would risk being ineffective,” the UNICEF officials said. 

The representatives also went a step further, calling on Education Ministers in the region to request that CXC adjust the CSEC and CAPE exams 2021 and to further simplify the content and the methodology of the exams across all subjects and adapt the timeline to the challenges currently faced by the students that will ensure equitable accessibility and student participation.

The representatives noted that there were already many factors working against student preparedness for the examinations, which were all made worse due to COVID-19. They acknowledged CXC’s move to make adjustments back in April such as providing the topics for Paper 2, the long answer paper five weeks prior to the start of the exams, reducing requirements for School-Based Assessments (SBAs) by as much as 50 percent for some subjects, extending submission dates for some subjects and even allowing some students to defer taking the exams.

However, the reps noted that “…no change has been made on the multiple-choice paper (Paper 1) which will still cover the entire syllabus, and no clear structure was shared as to how those students who meet deferral requirements and choose to defer will be supported to sit the exams at a later date in 2022.”

Students in Belize have faced increasing challenges in preparing for their exams not only due to COVID-19 but also because many teachers have been on strike since April 24.

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