The chairman of the Barbados-based Caribbean Examinations Council, (CXC) Sir Hilary Beckles says an independent review team will “shortly begin” work reviewing the “specific challenges’ that have caused widespread concerns across the region, following the preliminary release of its July-August examinations.
Sir Hilary, who is also Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) said in a statement that the review team will “present a report for discussion with relevant stakeholders”.
Last week, the chief executive officer and Registrar, Dr Wayne Wesley, told a news conference that the regional examination body was satisfied with the results “and I am quite sure you would also recognise the improved performance of students this year.
But several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have expressed concerns at the results of this year’s examinations set by the CXC with Jamaica and Barbados government ministers calling for investigations into the results of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) where some students said they had received “ungraded” results.
“Several candidates received ungraded results due to an issue identified with incomplete SBA uploads and a glitch in CXC’s SBA uploads automated response system,” Grenada’s Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Religious Affairs and Information said in a statement.
In his statement, Sir Hilary said that concerns raised in the public domain with respect to the efficacy of procedures and systems used by the CXC in its computation and declaration of student performance data are of great importance to the organisation.
He said the Registrar and his team have met with regional Ministers of Education in order to discuss these concerns and identify the underlying causes with a view to moving forward and providing clarity to our stakeholders and enhanced support.
“CXC is satisfied that Ministers have received explanations for its positions in light of the public discourse. It is understood that while there might be policy and technical issues to be addressed immediately, the maintenance of public trust going forward is paramount,” Sir Hilary said.
He promised that there would be “ongoing dialogue” with regional Ministries of Education based upon the official gathering of data relevant to all ventilated concerns.
“Each and every formally reported case will be reviewed and where remedies are required they will be applied,” he said, adding that the management at CXC “has been impressive in the delivery of the July 2020 regional examinations within the context of the COVID-19 logistics nightmare, and crippling global doubt about revised examinations systems and procedures.
“I commend the team at CXC for their effort to serve the best they can – the people of our region,” he said, adding “nonetheless, it was anticipated that given these specific challenges a period of review and possible revisions would follow, consistent with the regulations of the Council.
“It has been agreed, therefore, that an Independent Review Team will shortly begin this work and present a report for discussion with relevant stakeholders”.
Last Thursday, one of Guyana’s leading secondary schools, Queen’s College, threatened legal action and possibly lobbying for withdrawal from the CXC.
“If CXC does not bend, we will petition- and we plan to do so through the Ministry of Education- to remove Guyana from the Council from writing the CXC examination. There are other examination bodies and we can very well carry our business there,” Queen’s College principal, Jackie Benn said.
But Wesley told reporters that CXC, which was founded in 1972 by regional governments, “was established to serve the Caribbean region and we are doing so under the auspices of the respective ministries of education across the region.
“At no time we looked at trying to reduce those persons that we serve. We have always been reaching out and ensuring that we provide them with the service that they need. We would never condone any particular move that will see persons not wanting to accept or receive our services,” he added,.
He dismissed suggestions that the CXC had taken a bureaucratic approach to the concerns raised across the region by students and ministries of education officials, saying “we have indicated to individuals where there are concerns that they need to raise it with us..”