CSEC, CAPE and CCSLC students will be sitting their examinations in July this year. That was the decision coming out of the First Emergency Virtual Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) – Education on Friday. The meeting, chaired by Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Education, Hon. Michael Browne, was attended by Ministers of Education, senior Ministry of Education officials from across CARICOM and key stakeholders including CXC, University of the West Indies, CUT and (other stakeholders).
The Registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Dr. Wayne Wesley, in a presentation to the meeting, explained the administration of the modified examination process for the award of valid grades. He indicated that preserving the integrity of the examinations involved; the administration of Paper 1 (Multiple Choice Assessment), School Based Assessment, and where applicable additional assessment components along with appropriate modelling accounting for historical data and teacher predicted information as important calibration/quality check.
He said while the proposed revised administration schedule for examinations is July 2020 (results released in the 1st week of September 2020), there was need for a regional consensus considering the impact of COVID-19 and the respective national protocols.
The COHSOD 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 CXC in collaboration with the UWI presented another proposal at the meeting in relation to requirements for CAPE applicants for 2020 admission. Their proposal to accept CAPE Unit 1 plus previous results to serve as matriculation to UWI for the next academic year was accepted by the Council.
The Council adopted Public Health Guidelines for the reopening of schools, as proposed in the report from Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Dr. Joy St. John.
The report from CARPHA included initial guidance on the development of protocols for re-opening of schools in the response, recovery, and resilience phases of the crisis by the Education sector. She also spoke to the need for mental health considerations during a Public Health crisis. Dr. St. John reminded the COHSOD of the complexities of the education system in Member States and the challenges for social distancing.
The Chair underscored the significance of competing and varying conditions impacting education systems in Member States, with some states seeing increased cases of confirmed COVID-19 while in other states the number of confirmed cases are decreasing. There was a deep appreciation of the complexities of responding to the provision of education during a public health crisis and Member States detailed the peculiar challenges they were experiencing. In particular, attention was given to the current trend of COVID 19 infections in Jamaica and it was agreed that the CXC would pursue further bilateral discussions with Jamaica in relation to special considerations that could be explored.
After tedious negotiations and consultations, and on evaluating Education and Health officials’ ability to create a safe environment for students to prepare for and sit the regional exams, the meeting arrived at a consensus for exams to be held in July 2020. Informed by CARPHA’s recommendations and strategies for the safe, phased opening of schools, Ministries of Education, guided by national Health officials, will adapt respective national conditions to ensure students, teachers and staff can safely prepare for the July sitting.