Over 450 of the subject review requested by Guyana, for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) saw new grades being issued to the students by the examining body, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).
This was disclosed by Education Minister, Priya Manickchand, during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. During the press conference, the minister also informed that the ministry has taken the decision to await the outstanding review requests from CXC before announcing a “top student” for CSEC or the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).
“A check of the pending reviews showed a number of candidates could receive review changes that may likely affect the list of candidates with the highest number of Grade Ones,” Manickchand said, as she explained the MoE’s rationale for awaiting the pending results.
However, it is unsure at this time as to when the remaining reviews will be completed, as CXC had originally projected completing the exercise by January 31, but has since missed the deadline. Exacerbating the situation is a lockdown that has been announced in Barbados due to COVID-19 in that country. The CXC is located in Barbados, and the lockdown has since curtailed the Council from carrying out its work.
“We are just as frustrated as the students are,” Manickchand said, as she implored patience from the students and stakeholders being affected by the situation.
She added: “CXC had said to us that by the 31st January, they would have finished the review process. Then in February, Barbados went into full lockdown. I am assured by [CXC Registrar] Dr. [Wayne] Wesley that what they can do they are doing, but they are affected by the lockdown, and it’s not something that we can be unsympathetic about given the pandemic.”
Of the 1258 subject reviews, affecting 500 students, and submitted by Guyana to CXC, a total of 128 reviews are still pending.
“Grade changes were awarded to 456 grade reviews while 674 grades remain the same,” she informed.
For CAPE, the ministry still has 33 review requests outstanding. Administered by the CXC to several nations across the Caribbean, CSEC and CAPE are annual exams written by secondary school students when exiting secondary school. The results are used by the students to obtain jobs or to further their education at the tertiary level.
Customarily, the MoE would announce the names of students who got the most Grade Ones at CSEC and CAPE after the preliminary results would have been released by CXC. However, while the preliminary results for the 2020 exams were released since September 2020, CXC faced massive backlash over what many students and other stakeholders deemed as unjustifiably lower-than-expected grades.
There were also an unusually high number of ungraded results. The issue persisted in countries across the Caribbean where the exams were written.
The CXC received an unprecedented influx of over 21,000 review requests and over 3,100 queries. As such, the MoE took the decision to withhold announcing the top student, pending the outcome of the reviews. Minister Manickchand, however, assured that there is an end in sight.
“We do say to all our students and parents and teachers, there is going to be an end. In two months’ time I hope, this will not be something we are still addressing. Unfortunately, we can’t give a firm date for that. Don’t want them to lose hope but also can’t offer more certainty right now. Persons are being affected mentally. We get letters demanding we release the results. We have a duty to explain to people to say we simply can’t. It could be worst if we go announcing a top student,” Manickchand reasoned.