Sep 24, 2020 Letters
Never would I have believed that amongst the systems within society that actively play a major role in the prejudices and injustices experienced and lived by members of society, that the Caribbean Examination Council, the region’s exam body would take the cake and use our education as a disturbing vantage point to the benefit of the council and at the dismay of its stakeholders. As of yesterday the 22nd September, 2020 upon the release of the CXC 2020 results I am a convert. CXC, you have failed and hurt us, the students. For years you have been the beacon of authority upholding the standards of education within the Caribbean region and it is more than disheartening-it is infuriating to witness those standards being trampled upon.
The buzz in the air and excitement shared by both CXC and CAPE students on “Results Day” quickly turned into disbelief and shock upon witnessing their grades. How could it be that some students with all A profiles were graded-IV? Like the titanic upon hitting that fateful iceberg, feelings of hope and confidence quickly sank. The favourite and most consistent inconsistency were grades III-V particularly in Pure Mathematics and Integrated Mathematics. Even more disturbing were some reports of fellow students receiving “ungraded” and being marked absent for subjects they undoubtedly were present to write in the unprecedented time of Covid-19.
A Loops Barbados online newspaper headline reads “CXC results back for students and ministries at the same time in 2020”; this was an historic move across the region as over the years the release of CXC results were notoriously untimely. While it was an historic move in releasing the results within the foretold time period, it was also certainly historic as it burned and scarred the futures of students with feelings of uncertainty, heartbreak and fear of what may become of them.
Writing our exams that ranged between 1 hour, 30 minutes to 2 hours while wearing masks covering our faces, having to disinfect along the way and socially distancing were the conditions necessary to complete our paper ones. We repeated this cycle several times for each subject all while still carrying the unwavering worry of falling ill as the number of corona virus cases in Guyana continued its inclination as we returned to our homes and families daily. Yet still a vast majority of the student population opted to power through with a positive mindset that this will be worth the five or seven years of schooling and putting our best efforts forward.
It should be noted that although some schools across Guyana are seeing inconsistencies in the results of their brightest students, others do not share the same fate. Yes, a few were lucky to have received rewarding grades but the injustice dished out to the majority undermines the very meritocratic principles that uphold our society. Education affords us the privilege of social mobility, to be able to advance within our society based on an individual’s capabilities and merits. The results of the May/June CXC 2020 examination have taken away that privilege from us students and society at large. In such a situation, nobody wins when we are at an impasse.
It is an easy thing to forget that students are more than mere 10-digit candidate numbers, bell curves, IA scores and grading systems. Our education is not a fickle thing to be played with and we as students are not cogs in a machine that toil with our blood, sweat, tears, dedication and sacrifices only in the end to be spurned with an unmerited end product. We demand and deserve better than to fall through the cracks of a factory well-oiled with our monies.
To those who say, “Get over your grade, it does not define you” while you say that statement to provide some comfort, the reality is that it does and it doesn’t. It does not define your capabilities as an individual or your intellect. However, academia plays a significant role in pursuing future endeavors such as securing jobs, opportunities for further learning at colleges or universities and even applying for scholarships. There is no point in ignoring the consequences that these results may very well have on our futures.
I merely ask and hope for three things. Firstly for a transparent, thorough, comprehensive, cost- free review of both the CXC and CAPE 2020 results that warrants an explanation for the inconsistencies observed by students. Moreover, refunds should rightfully be issued to some students who at this time have requested such and no longer trust their capabilities in conducting a review.
Secondly, my fellow colleagues that have been on the receiving, hard end of the stick know that the burden of your angst and disappointment is shared and we will be your advocates and allies throughout this process. To those struggling with experiencing shame, be compassionate to yourself and exercise patience as a solution is being drafted. Your worries are valid and you matter.
Thirdly, I humbly request the parents of students to rally with our teachers and help our voices and stories to be carried and heard. Yes, some may feel disappointed and hold the belief that the CXC results are supposedly valid, and accurately represent the efforts put into the May/June 2020 exams but remember that you too have also sacrificed and witnessed first- hand the input that is evidently unmatched with the output presented to us. You as parents know your child and their capabilities best and trust that you have their best interests at heart. Please extend comfort and lend your understanding to your child in this time. It is needed and will be heavily appreciated.
Concerned CAPE Student (Name and contact provided)
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