Opposition Spokesperson on Education and Training, Dr Angela Brown-Burke, is calling on the Ministry of Education and Youth, through the Government of Jamaica, to dialogue with other Caribbean countries and request a later date for the start of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
According to Brown-Burke, there are growing concerns in the education sector stemming from the preparedness of the students to sit the examinations, as the children were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures that the Government implemented under the Disaster Risk Management Act.
“The conversation I have been having with parents as well as with principals, is that they are concerned about the readiness of some of their students, and they believe that they could have benefitted from a little bit more extension,” said Brown-Burke.
“I think that the fervent wish, the fervent hope from them ,is that the Ministry of Education and the Government of Jamaica are spending the time building bridges and reaching out to Caribbean neighbours. This is not the time to make enemies.
“This is the time to reach out and make sure that we can form an alliance to protect the children and to do stuff in the best interest of the children when it comes to CXC and the examinationss that are upcoming,” she continued.
The education sector has been affected for the past two years because of COVID-19 with the restrictions that were put in place to curtail the spread, preventing face-to-face classes from taking place. Online classes were also affected, with many children not having devices, and the lack of proper internet service in some communities across the country.
Changes have been made to the sittings of the examinations over the last two years, with the organising entity, the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), adopting suggestions that were made by governments in the region,
Brown-Burke said she has had discussions with stakeholders in the education sector, who have outlined that children have fallen behind and need added time to be ready. She would not specify the timeframe that would be needed for that to happen.
“I believe that this is the time for us to reach out to other ministries and other interest groups in the Caribbean so that we have a united voice in defence of the children around the CSEC examinations,” said Brown-Burke.
“I don’t like to say it should be X time or Y time. The point is that where they are now, they believe that they could benefit from an extension of time, some go as far as talking about some kind of modification, but they say that they believe that, that may be too late to be done now.
“Certainly an extension of time so that the students will have a little bit more time to prepare and to become comfortable is what they are talking about, remembering that many of them are in schools just now, but it has been a difficult transition and they thought that they would benefit from that,” she said.