The Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) says it is “deeply concerned’ at the decision taken by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Education earlier this month that regional students will sit the Caribbean Examinations Council-administered exams in July.
The COHSOD meeting, which was held virtually and chaired by the Antigua and Barbuda Education Minister Michael Browne, said that the Barbados-based CXC would be setting exams for students in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
But in a statement, the CUT said it was calling on Caribbean governments “to be mindful not to rush the process for the reopening of schools to facilitate the writing of CXC Examinations, unless they have instituted all measures outlined by the reopening of school protocol”.
The CUT said that it believes the “unfortunate” decision taken by COHSOD places the lives of thousands of students and teachers at risk, as all the issues surrounding the administering of the examinations have not been addressed.
CUT said it had written to the CXC Registrar in April indicating that its membership were “vehemently opposed to the administration of the CXC examinations any time before September 2020.
The letter had outlines several reasons including health and safety issues, the need for greater engagement on the format of the examination as well as the validity issues associated with the proposed format of the examination.
The CUT had also pointed to the technological capacity and infrastructural limitations of many of the education institutions throughout the region also noting the uncertainty as it relates to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the region.
“We are not confident that the governments of the region have demonstrated the level of preparedness for the planned reopening of schools in order to create a safe environment for students and teachers to effectively operate.
“We are aware that there are governments in the region who have reopened schools and some will in short order. We consider such a move to be reckless unless the requisite health provisions have been made,” the CUT said, adding “we must understand that teaching and learning must take place in an environment that is conducive for such activities”.
It said that the health and well-being of students and teachers must take precedence over all other consideration at this time.