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Address by Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett at the Opening Ceremony for the Inaugural Ministerial Summit on CXC’s Strategy 2021-2025

The Summit was held under the theme: Facilitating Transformation through Assessment

  • Dr The Honourable Ralph Gonsalves
  • Distinguished Honourable Ministers
  • Vice Chancellor University of the West Indies and Chair of CXC, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles
  • Vice Chancellor University of Guyana, Professor Paloma Mohammed Martin
  • Dr. Wayne Wesley, Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, CXC
  • Other Distinguished Participants

I want to first extend deepest condolences to the government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines and to the family of former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell. As I said to PM Gonsalves this morning when he passed on the sad news of Sir James, Sir James was a one-of-a-kind leader. He became Prime Minister in the most unique way and he was an ardent integrationist who made an indelible mark on the development of his country and the Region. May he rest in peace. I would ask us to please observe a minute’s silence in his memory.

It is my privilege to make a few remarks at this Inaugural Ministerial Summit on CXC’s Strategy 2021-2025, under the Theme ‘Facilitating Transformation Through Assessment.

According to the CXC 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, its mission seeks to provide the Region with next generation assessment and certification services. The fulfilment of that mission in guaranteeing the quality of our human resources will no doubt be a major catalyst in the development of the Region. This is in keeping with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which focuses on the equitable provision of quality education and is the critical SDG through which all other SDGs will be realised.

It is also well aligned to the CARICOM Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy, which aims to “enable our people as they progress from their earliest years to senior adulthood to reach their full potential in their personal and working lives, contributing to their families, communities and national and regional development.”

These considerations underline the importance of today’s Ministerial Summit.

As we consider CXC’s continuing role in the broad development framework for the Region, we must do so in the context of an ageing population and, concurrently, high levels of youth unemployment.

As we respond to the call of our youth to make the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) work for them, the burden is on the CXC to ensure future employers that applicants possess the skills that are relevant and needed for the job market.

As the pandemic has underscored, preparation for a digital world is now urgent. Member States are asked to catch the wind and surf the tide of a technology-enabled society to encourage innovation and advance the development of our Community. Thus, we fully support the CXC’s drive to rapidly digitalise all aspects of its operations in the delivery of its services.

Through its suite of offerings, the CXC must be continuously seeking to lead the adaptation of the regional education system, driving skills and promoting technological and creative innovation.

A 2020 survey of national training agencies and TVET councils in the Caribbean showed 53% of the respondents indicated that their institutions do not use any form of ICT for distance delivery of instruction. Further 47% of the respondents indicated moderate use of different types of ICTs to deliver instruction at a distance in Vocational training.”

There is no doubt that for Member States the costs of digitalising the education sector are high, and for digitalising the TVET sector even more so. However, if we are to respond to the digitalisation imperative so as to ensure that all citizens can equally develop, equally participate in meaningful social and economic activities, that investment must be accelerated now.

Attention, therefore, must be given to capacity building for teachers and instructors, so that they can re-create real world scenarios in this digital environment to assess student skill and competencies across the traditional academic and the skills-based curricula.

Chair, the CXC has a key role to play in strengthening the credentialling of programmes for two major sectors of our society, out-of-school youth, and women and girls.

According to a 2017 International Labour Organisation (ILO) – Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) Report, almost half of those employed in Barbados’ green sector are female. Many unskilled females have found employment in Light-Emitting Diode (L.E.D) bulb assembly plants, with further evidence suggesting that a significant proportion have used these wages to retrain and reskill themselves.  The green sector may therefore provide an avenue for decent work and mobility for low-skilled females in other Caribbean countries, especially where female decent work deficits are high.”

I suggest that the green sector can also provide opportunities for our out-of-school youth, who would benefit from the relevant training and assessment for work in the sector. As we seek to recover and rebuild our economies from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to counter the existential threat of climate change, the green sector is of crucial importance. The need to build a cadre of trained personnel to support those efforts is urgent.

Honourable Ministers, distinguished participants, let me end these few comments in this way: it is clear that transformation of our economies and our education system is not possible without digitalisation.  To accomplish this, we must address the fact that there are areas within education delivery assessment that need urgent attention. Education and training are the key drivers of economic recovery and sustainability.

The strategic focus of the CXC must be aimed at ensuring that our human capital is fit for purpose and capable of carrying out that tasks at hand. The Secretariat stands ready to assist in achieving those goals in any way we can.

I thank you!

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