Dr Tim Gopeesingh, former Education Minister.

Former education minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh has described the widespread complaints regarding the CXC results as a cause for serious national concern.

He said since the results were released in the past week, thousands of students across the Caribbean region, and especially in T&T, have complained that their final grades were ‘unusual’ and even ‘unexpectedly low’.

Gopeesingh said while CXC has denied any anomalies in this year’s results, the fact remains that the 2020 examinations were a major deviation from previous years since they were held during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “Under this undue stress, students had to sit an abridged version of the traditional exams. Their final subject grades were based on their internal assessment (SBAs) and a multiple-choice paper, as opposed to the essay papers they would have extensively prepared for.

“In these circumstances, the Ministry of Education is mandated to take urgent, corrective action on the students’ behalf, so as to ensure beyond a reasonable doubt that there were absolutely no discrepancies in this year’s CAPE examinations and marking system.”

He urged Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly to urgently convene a meeting of all Senior School Supervisors (SS3s) and have them instruct school principals to ascertain the exact number of T&T’s CAPE students who are now querying their grades within the shortest possible time frame.

In addition, he said the minister should also formally request an urgent meeting with the CXC Registrar to seek clarification on the exact marking system used for the CAPE Multiple Choice Exams, and specifically whether a negative marking system was utilised; the quality control procedure used this year for collating and authenticating the internal assessment/SBAs marks of students, and to disclose why the marking of a simple Multiple Choice Exam and SBAs could have resulted in so many reported discrepancies and queries from so many students in T&T and the wider Caribbean region.

He suggested that resources be increased to adequately address the numerous queries from students and a waiver of the query fees for the 2020 CAPE examinations for T&T’s students in light of the serious financial setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the latter suggestion was, “especially in light of the fact that T&T has notably been a major contributor to CXC’s overall funding since we pay almost $50m per year in student fees.”

He felt the nation’s children “have already endured too many mental, emotional and academic setbacks due to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.”