... but implementation dependent on e-governance programme

In the near future, local students sitting the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination could look forward to doing so by means of electronic testing (e-testing).news 20161128 4

This is according to Chief Education Officer (ag), Mr. Marcel Hutson, who on Wednesday told this publication that the Ministry of Education is currently exploring the possibility of this technological development.
His disclosure comes on the heels of successful moves by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to introduce e-testing at the most recent sitting of CSEC.
A total of seven territories participated in the historic move – Anguilla, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat and St. Lucia.
At a press conference held at CXC’s Barbados headquarters on Monday it was revealed that some 500 candidates participated in the e-testing format of the CSEC examinations. There were reportedly few glitches during the examinations, which saw candidates being able to utilise a computer or an equivalent device to participate fully in the Paper One or multiple choice segment of the examinations.
Hutson said that while the local Education Ministry is hoping to soon be counted among the territories that have embraced e-testing, “you have to appreciate that we have issues with internet in some parts of our country such as the hinterland areas”.
He disclosed, however, that the Ministry has already commenced discussions with CXC on the way forward.
“We are saying this is the way to go in the future, because we are talking about technology and so on…but we have to work out some matters.”
The Acting CEO was at the time making reference to the E-governance programme which he said will be a key factor for Guyana’s move towards e-testing.
The e-governance programme, Hutson said, will essentially serve to “provide internet services to schools nationally at some point in time, and we will definitely go in the direction of e-testing then.”
“Once the programme is fully national, then e-testing at CSEC will get on its way. It has to be across the board; we can’t do it at some schools and others can’t. We would want to balance the whole thing out so we are moving in that direction,” Hutson asserted.
This therefore means that candidates of CSEC will not have the privilege of independently opting to participate in examinations the e-testing way. He added, “What they will have to do is wait until the Ministry announces that it is going in this direction. Students won’t be able to just call in and say we want e-testing.”
However, Hutson did not rule out the possibility of a pilot run of e-testing at some selected schools before it is introduced on a national scale.
“At some point in time we might very well go the route of pilot testing in some areas,” he said.
Speaking of the success of e-testing during the sitting of the January 2017 CSEC examinations, CXC Registrar, Mr. Glenroy Cumberbatch, on Monday said that that the initiative has been found to be very favourable to the majority. He recalled that it was only a few days ago that CXC had embarked on having a view of the strategic direction in which it wants to be by 2020. In order to do that, he noted, the Council decided to look at all of the strategic plans of the various Education Ministries across the Region, and found that in those plans were moves to include Information Technology more in the teaching/learning and assessment of students.
”We had to close the circle…It is not easy for children to take part in activities in one way and then do the examinations in a totally different way. If Information Technology is to be used for teaching and for learning, then it should also be used for testing,” Cumberbatch had asserted.
CXC, moreover, decided to embrace the added benefits of e-testing. Some of these benefits, according to Cumberbatch, included the fact that children could take advantage of their long acquired Information Technology skills.
According to Cumberbatch, of the candidates who participated in the examination electronically, a total of 158 responded to a CXC questionnaire. And according to him, 96 percent of them found the system to be satisfactory, good or very good, with over 50 percent of them finding it to be very good.
”So they enjoyed the experience of doing the exams electronically,” Cumberbatch related, as he added, “only four percent found it poor or very poor. One of the students said, ‘with due respect, I prefer to have my paper and pencil…We will have people who are like that”.
Some of the candidates, based on their responses, also shared their opinion that the platform used to conduct the examinations was easy, and at least one-third of them said that they had in fact practiced on that very platform before they took the examination.
“We would want to improve that, so more people have access to the platform and are able to practice before they actually write the exams,” Cumberbatch said, as he disclosed that even more interesting in the responses seen, was the fact that 87 percent of the candidates said that they would recommend the system used and, by extension, recommend e-testing to others.