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Presbyterian Board to CXC: A Loss of Trust Could Lead to Hopelessness

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

SHOULD the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) not immediately move to rectify the problem of the recent grades awarded to secondary school pupils, their future will be gravely affected if tertiary level institutions lose trust in the Caribbean’s main examining body.

This is according to the Presbyterian Secondary Schools’ Board of Education (PSSBOE) of the Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago.

On Friday, the PSSBOE issued a release stating that the widespread concern over the grades awarded for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) were “curiously inconsistent results.”

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The board also asked for a waiver of the US$30 enquiry fee given the economic situation and the numerous regional complaints.

PSSBOE stated, “Our principals, teachers, parents, and students have been thrown into deep distress and emotional turmoil over this year’s curiously inconsistent results. It is noted that while there may be unforeseeable individual mishaps, which will inevitably occur every year during examination conditions, the magnitude and prevalence of these anomalies and discrepancies are too broad based to ignore. It would appear, that the grading of examination scripts and the scrutiny or supervision of same by CXC lacks the requisite level of transparency, accountability, and safeguards to ensure the results are beyond question.”

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PSSBOE stated that while many were rejoicing upon receipt of their results, there were also many in deep sorrow.

The board also stated that its teachers responsible for marking the School Based Assessments (SBAs) exemplified professionalism and integrity in marking pupils’ work.

PSSBOE  stated, “We have always staunchly supported the institution and aims of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) however, if tertiary institutions lose faith in the systems of CXC, the impact on our future generation will be devastating.

“It goes without saying given the widespread regional discontent this year and the number of statements by respective Ministries of Education around the Caribbean, these complaints will no doubt find its way to the attention of these tertiary institutions locally and internationally, to the detriment of our Caribbean students. The integrity of the entire education system in the region is at stake and the situation therefore demands commensurate level of engagement, transparent re‐assessment and review.”

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PSSBOE also expressed disappointment with the manner in which CXC officials handled the press conference held on Friday. “We are disturbed and disheartened by such a response and pray there can be a complete change of heart in the approach being adopted by CXC officials in this matter.”

PSSBOE added, “We wish to remind CXC and those in authority that when there is a loss of trust and confidence in the system, a sense of hopelessness can emerge and the emotional toll of this can be disastrous in the already strained conditions of a pandemic.”

The board stated that Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly will be supported in her efforts to effectively to issue  the complaints to the CXC officials while  holding the body to account and demand answers in the interest of justice, fairness and truth.

And the board encouraged its pupils to keep their head above water during the query process.

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“To the students affected, we encourage you to look beyond the deep disappointment of this moment, keep the faith in Almighty God and through His grace you will find peace and still succeed. In these already trying and difficult times in our world, now exasperated by these circumstances, we ask the national community to keep these students and parents affected by this situation in your prayers and give them the strength, wisdom, courage and fortitude to battle with this adversity, grow in character and never lose faith and hope,” it stated.

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