Sunday Express Editorial

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”.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

There has been overwhelming anguish among our readers over the death of 85-year-old Kedar Gajadharsingh who, according to his daughter, died unexpectedly in England while waiting for the Government’s approval to return home to Trinidad.

During an exit interview in early August, I asked the outgoing head of the European Union (EU) delegation in Port of Spain for his description of relations between Caribbean countries and the EU.

Nothing seems to have rattled the composure of UNC Oropouche East parliamentarian Dr Roodal Moonilal as deeply as the decision by the Government to retain the services of British legal and investigative expertise in ongoing fraud and corruption investigations in which he is deemed a “person of interest”.

Forget about the tax breaks on purchases and the draining of foreign exchange. Let us be rational. There are far too many vehicles on the roads of Trinidad and Tobago.

Our Minister of Trade recently revealed the current level of cereal imports into this country is a staggering $1 billion per year, which has understandably raised a huge furore.

I start this letter with an apology to two comrades I truly respect—comrades Stephon and Sterlling. The latter sent me a letter, via WhatsApp, since October 10, and the former told me about the same letter since the day before it was sent to me.