CMC News:– Kingston – The Jamaica government says it does not support the decision by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Education that regional students will sit the Barbados-based Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in July.
The COHSOD meeting last week, which was held virtually and chaired by the Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Education, Michael Browne, said that the CXC would be setting exams for students in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
But Minister with responsibility for Education, Karl Samuda, told a news conference on Monday night that Kingston could not endorse the COHSOD decision owing to the impact that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the education sector locally.
“The challenges are much greater [in Jamaica] and we don’t feel that we could make a commitment to hold those exams in July under the circumstances.
“We are examining very carefully all our options and what possibilities exist for us to give our students the best opportunity to engage the process having come out of a very challenging few months,” Samuda said, noting that the Cabinet will soon outline a position on the matter.
Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr Grace McLean, who represented Samuda at the COHSOD meeting, told the ministers that Jamaica could not rubber-stamp the position.
“Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago registered concerns regarding the decisions in relation to the date and modification of the CXC examinations, however, the CXC indicated that further bilateral discussions in relation to special considerations could be explored. The Caribbean Union of Teachers also raised concerns regarding the health and safety of stakeholders,” according to the statement issued following the COHSOD meeting.
Schools here have been closed since March 13 and will not reopen until September.
A statement issued after the COHSOD meeting noted that the regional education ministers also agreed to have examinations administered via an e-Testing modality in countries that are equipped with the requisite infrastructure.
However, where there were infrastructure challenges, candidates would be allowed to sit paper-based examinations.
The statement noted that the CXC, in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI), presented another proposal at the meeting in relation to requirements for CAPE applicants for 2020 admission.