The response by CXC Registrar Dr Wayne Wesley to widespread complaints about CSEC and CAPE results from pupils and teachers across the region demonstrates an unacceptable level of contempt for the public served by CXC.
For the thousands of teenagers who are being made to feel that their concerns are trivial and unworthy of urgent attention, Dr Wesley’s declared satisfaction with the Caribbean Examinations Council’s service to them is the kind of offensive arrogance shown by bureaucrats who see themselves beyond challenge and unaccountable to their publics.
Perhaps Dr Wesley does not recognise the scale of the student tsunami coming at CXC.
Citing overall performance statistics in response to pupils’ complaints about individual grades just makes no sense. We applaud the tough stance of Guyana’s Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, who has picked up the matter on behalf of that country’s pupils. Assuring pupils that they “are not alone”, she denounced the Council’s suggestion that pupils should follow CXC’s complaint procedures which require the payment of a US$30 fee, and insisted that the scale of the problem warranted a full investigation: “CXC cannot be flippant about these concerns from Guyana and other countries and just suggest we follow processes... why should they pay for something that is very well not their fault?”
Last Friday, she disclosed that CXC had agreed to review the papers/work of Guyana’s schools and to resolve the issue of the large number of exam papers having been marked “ungraded”.
Given the thousands of pupils who have signed a petition of complaint against the Council, one would have expected Dr Wesley and his colleagues to be open to listening and willing to submit its marking process to both internal and external review.
Standing by the “integrity” of its preliminary grades without an independent review is meaningless, and risks a loss of public confidence. CXC’s Registrar and chief executive Dr Wesley must recognise the reputational risks to CXC and do everything necessary to protect its hard-won international brand as a trusted examiner. It took a long time for CXC to gain the trust of the public and institutions in the Caribbean and beyond, for it now to be squandered by bureaucratic indifference and arrogance.
This has not been the CXC way and no room should be allowed for the Council to assume the character of another unaccountable institution.
We urge Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly to seek out the concerns of pupils and teachers and to provide the representation they require in this matter. As the ones most familiar with the individual capabilities of their pupils, teachers are critical to this process.
We cannot have teachers expressing serious concern while the ministry takes its cue from a defensive CXC. No doubt, the uproar is a huge inconvenience to education personnel throughout the region, coming as it does in the midst of a pandemic-sized dislocation. However, it cannot be shrugged off and left to wend its way through public service bureaucracy. The questions being asked by thousands of our young people demand answers. CXC must provide satisfactory answers lest they, too, be marked “failed”.