2020 Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)

PLACARDS COME OUT: Pupils from schools across the country who sat the 2020 Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams hold placards yesterday as they voice their concerns about their grades outside the Red House, which houses the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

SCRAP the exams and pay pupils’ query fees.

These were among the calls of parents and pupils who protested outside the Red House which houses the Parliament in Port of Spain yesterday to show their dissatisfaction with the grades of the 2020 CSEC and CAPE exams given by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) .

Both parents and pupils carried placards bearing messages such as “Justice For CAPE/ Be Responsible CXC”, “Teachers’ Grades Matter” and “Give Us Back Our Predicted Grades”.

Parents and pupils had protested earlier in the week outside the Red House over the same issue.

Up till about 4 p.m., the protesters claimed Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly had not visited them to listen to their litany of CXC/CAPE woes.

Consensus among the group, which included parent Elizabeth Chung, was that education was extremely important, and they should not be punished for CXC’s “lack of communication and incompetence”. Several pupils said they were dependent upon the grades to enter universities to pursue careers.

On Sunday, CXC registrar Dr Wayne Wesley confirmed that the examination body would address within the week thousands of grade queries that were received from pupils across the region. He also said CXC will reduce the fees associated with the request for reviews by 50 per cent.

At a virtual meeting on Monday, education ministers of several Caribbean countries unanimously proposed that a total waiver of fees for reviews of grades by CXC should be considered.

The release followed a meeting between Gadsby-Dolly, Minister Lisa Morris-Julian and ministers of education from several countries with Wesley to discuss the report submitted by the Independent Review Team set up by CXC to review the queries of the CAPE/CSEC 2020 examinations.

‘We’re not paying for any queries’

Spokesperson for the protesting group outside the Red House, parent Michelle Wilson, who has two boys attending St Mary’s College, said: “We have a problem with the grades. We think CXC should do a scrap of the exam. Review it. CXC is not a power unto itself. There are other stakeholders. Students are the biggest stakeholders. We heard the minister (Gadsby-Dolly) was going to pay for the queries. Barbados is paying for their students. We are not paying for any queries.”

Moving to the bugbear of “predicted grades,” Wilson said: “For CAPE 1, students were accepted into university. For CAPE 2, students were rejected.”

St Mary’s College pupil Alex Adams, who has represented Trinidad and Tobago in Mathematics Olympiads in the United Kingdom, lambasted CXC “discrepancies”. Adams said he was delayed from studying mechanical engineering at Notre Dame University, Indiana, USA.

Adams, 19, a former St Mary’s College head boy, said: “I am one of the top maths students in Trinidad and Tobago. I was supposed to represent T&T in Russia in 2020 but it did not happen because of Covid-19. I am finalising bank statements to query Applied Maths and Caribbean Studies.”

Adams got a Grade One in Maths, Grade One in Physics, Grade One in Pure Maths, Grade Three In Applied Maths, and a Grade Three in Caribbean Studies.

An emotional St Francois Girls’ College pupil Liahze Serrette-Samuel said she had studied diligently and could not accept the results which CXC “had foisted” upon her.

TTUTA monitoring situation

Efforts to contact Gadsby-Dolly on her mobile yesterday proved futile.

In a telephone interview, Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) president Antonia De Freitas said TTUTA will be monitoring the situation since CXC has pledged to do the re-marking.

“They are reviewing grades. If the action is ineffective, then, there will be reason for more protest. We dispute allegations of corruption by teachers.

“Let us see how the marking is unfolding. Minister indicated she would write CXC further because she was uncomfortable with some responses. We still don’t feel students should be bearing the cost of queries. It’s either CXC absorbs the cost, or the State pays for the re-marking,” she said.

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