Minister of Education, Anthony Garcia.

Despite the challenges presented across the Caribbean by the COVID-19 lockdown, the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) has announced that the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exam (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations will be administered in July.

The decision was confirmed by CXC late on Friday and followed the First Emergency Virtual Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD)–Education, which was hosted earlier in the day.

Chaired by the Minister of Education from Antigua and Barbuda, Michael Browne, the regional meeting which lasted just over four hours included Ministers of Education from all the Caribbean states where CXC exams are administered.

CXC Registrar, Dr Wayne Wesley explained what the administration of the modified examination process for the award of valid grades and preserving the integrity of the examinations would entail.

He said it included the administration of Paper 1 (Multiple Choice Assessment), School Based Assessment, and where applicable, additional assessment components along with appropriate modelling accounting for historical data and teacher predicted information.

Browne said while the proposed revised administration schedule for examinations is July 2020, with results to be released in the first week of September 2020, there was the need for a regional consensus considering the impact of COVID-19 and the respective national protocols.

The COHSOD also agreed to have examinations administered via an e-Testing modality in countries that are equipped with the requisite infrastructure. However, where there are infrastructure challenges, the COHSOD said candidates would be allowed to sit paper-based examinations.

Meanwhile, CXC in collaboration with the UWI presented another proposal at the meeting in relation to requirements for CAPE applicants for 2020 admission.

Their proposal to accept CAPE Unit 1 plus previous results to serve as matriculation to UWI for the next academic year was accepted by the Council.

Additionally, CXC has adopted Public Health Guidelines for the reopening of schools as proposed in the report from Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr Joy St John.

The report from CARPHA included initial guidance on the development of protocols for the reopening of schools in the response, recovery and resilience phases of the crisis by the education sector.

St John also spoke to the need for mental health considerations during a public health crisis and reminded the COHSOD of the complexities of the education system in member states and the challenges for social distancing.

Even though Jamaica and T&T registered concerns regarding the decisions in relation to the date and modification of the examinations, CXC indicated that further bilateral discussions in relation to special considerations could be explored.

The Caribbean Union of Teachers also raised concerns regarding the health and safety of stakeholders.

Efforts to reach Education Minister Anthony Garcia for further information were unsuccessful.

Reporter: Anna-Lisa Paul