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UNICEF wants CXC exams adjusted


UNICEF wants CXC exams adjusted

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UNICEF, the United Nations watchdog over the rights of children, is calling on the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and regional ministers of education to adjust exams to avoid disadvantaging students.

In a release yesterday, the body said it was concerned about CXC maintaining the upcoming Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) tests for students as currently designed. It suggested adjustments to the content and administration of the exams, in line with recommendations from the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT).

UNICEF said it recognised the efforts already made at reducing certain requirements for the examinations and concessions such as providing topics for the long answer paper five weeks prior to the exams; reducing requirements for the school-based assessments (SBAs) and extending submission dates for some subjects; facilitating deferments to 2022 if students meet specific criteria, and discussing further postponement of the examination date.

“However, there are still a number of issues which require more substantial changes and flexibility. For example, no change has been made on the multiple-choice paper 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,” the statement read.

The body said it was aware the COVID-19 pandemic had further exacerbated the gaps in preparedness among the most disadvantaged students, and that this year there was a higher risk of those students in vulnerable conditions never taking the exams.

It also cited the natural disasters such as the recent eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent as an additional negative impact on the learning of thousands of students, on top of the repeated complaints from teachers, parents and students about the low levels of preparedness.

“If the exams were to be implemented as decided, our main concern is the low level of preparedness (academically and psychologically) of many of the thousands of 16- to 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.”

It asked the education ministers of CARICOM countries to request CXC to adjust the CSEC and CAPE exams, and include the CUT recommendations, along with simplifying the content and methodology of all exams while adapting the timeline to the stundents’ challenges to ensure equitable accessibility and participation. (AC/PR)