Education Minister Anthony Garcia on Monday denied that the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) has taken a decision not to mark two questions in the Math section of the 2019 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination.
He also refuted claims that the highest score attained in the Maths test was 88 per cent, as reported on social media on Monday, stating that such information was designed to create mischief and panic among parents and students ahead of today’s opening of the new school term.
His comments came hours after former University of the West Indies sociology lecturer Kirk Meighoo in a Facebook post claimed had he obtained information that the highest score attained in the Math section of the SEA examination was a mere 88 per cent.
Meighoo, a political analyst and former sociology lecturer put this on his Facebook profile, stated that he had received the information which should be checked against the final SEA scores.
Following the April 4 examination, there was a litany of complaints that certain questions in the Maths paper, which was developed by CXC, had been extremely challenging.
Over 18,000 students sat the examination with its results expected to be released in early July.
In an immediate response, Garcia, who had maintained that nothing was wrong with the Maths section after parents and students raised complaints, described Meighoo’s post as “erroneous and designed to confuse the general public. No results have been issued as yet. It is false information. Obviously this will create panic and mischief among students and parents. This is pure mischief.” Garcia said his ministry had no information that the highest Math score was 88 per cent.
“After all the papers have been marked, it is subject to quality control. CXC has not communicated with the Ministry of Education about its desire to leave out one, two or three questions from the examination during marking of the papers.”
He said as far as he knew the SEA papers were in the process of being marked “for the Easter vacation,” but could not say if it had been completed.
“The exam was a part of the primary school curriculum which was made available to schools since 2017, coupled with training exercises being undertaken through the education districts, so teachers were well prepared and in their preparation. I am sure they all prepared the students. Whatever is the outcome will depend on the performance of the students in the exams.”
Garcia said the element of secrecy by CXC was very important to them, while examiners have to remain tight-lipped.
“We have the assurances from CXC that everything is above board and there are no leaks and discrepancies in the papers. If there are cases of discrepancies, issues or problems the quality control committee would deal with that.”
He assured that a control quality officer from the MOE will be leaving for Barbados this week to ensure accountability and transparency.
Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan in response to a text message on Monday said the data entry and quality assurance checks have not been completed by CXC as yet.
“The information being circulated is premature and appears to be an attempt to create fear. Our information is that there are students who scored 100 per cent,” Seecharan insisted.
Meanwhile, Garcia said his ministry would also take a decision as to whether or not the SEA results would be published in the newspapers.
“I have a legal opinion which I will be sharing with the technical officers at our strategic executive meeting tomorrow (today). Based on the legal opinion and other opinions we have been getting, we will take our decision.”
Garcia also assured that all is set for the re-opening of schools today.
“The feedback to me is that everything is on stream with the re-opening of schools. Of course, I would not be surprised if there are one or two hiccups,” he said.
- by Shaliza Hassanali