During July/August 2020, students across the Caribbean engaged in the Caribbean Secondary Schools Examinations and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exam and after months of hard work and diligent preparation the grades rewarded have been utterly deplorable. The grades received by several A-students from various institutions in T&T have failed to reflect the students’ ability and the work they put in. I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that this has severely damaged our mental health and our desire to be productive in our studies. The purpose of writing this letter is to publicise the various ways in which the Caribbean Examinations Council along with the Government of T&T has failed to support the students in this difficult time.
Firstly, despite the challenges of online school and the longest school term on record, the students this year made the necessary sacrifices to prepare for their exams so that their futures would not be jeopardised. They adapted to the modified format of the examinations and although it was difficult they persevered. CXC assured the region that their methodology was sound and that their process would produce valid results. However, this has not been the case.
Students with high Internal Assessment (IA) marks and whose performances are usually excellent failed to secure ones or even passes in more than one of their subjects. Whereas students with lower marks or who usually do not perform well topped their subjects and even schools. Students within the same IA groups, who would’ve received the same IA mark, received grades that are so stark, that it is mathematically impossible. I can say that when I received my grades on September 22, 2020, I cried more than I ever cried in my entire life and have since been in the worst depression I have ever experienced. Attending school every day, completing assignments and studying for exams is becoming increasingly difficult as my hard work last year got me nothing but disappointment. I know that this is the sentiment amongst my colleagues as daily, tons of students some of whom I don’t even know, reach out to me. I have had to take on the responsibility of comforting suicidal students which is an experience I should never have had. It is bizarre to me that despite the evident discrepancies in results, constant complaints and protest the Government has done little to assist the students of the nation in coping with their mental health.
I will continue to go out of my way to ensure that no family has to lose a child over CXC's nonsense, but it should not be my responsibility. The students of the nation are in crisis, the role of the Government is to serve the people, yet they have done the bare minimum to motivate, sympathise with us and console us at this time. The fact that they continue to allow CXC to play games with our future makes me angry.
I understand that the Government is not at fault for what transpired, but by allowing CXC to deny us full transparency and the grades that we earned is unacceptable.
Additionally, CXC continues to take their merry time to resolve the issues, and our Government is not putting the necessary pressure on the council. Several students have lost hard-earned scholarships, got rejected by universities they were previously accepted to and have lost important opportunities that they earned. A local student who had been accepted to a university abroad was forced to return home after being expelled based on the Unit Two results. I am sure several other children have had similar experiences.
The issue at hand is very time-sensitive, but CXC continues to be allowed to take their time. Several of my peers are repeating subjects in 2021 which is unacceptable. They have already put in the hard work, yet they were denied their passes. There is no assurance that a repeat will improve grades.
Again, I repeat that it is unacceptable that CXC is allowed to gamble with our mental health and futures. The education system has failed us. This is not education, it is emotional abuse. I urge our Minister of Education, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, to assist us in getting CXC to do the right thing. We are not asking for anything impossible, we are asking for CXC to have integrity. The mental health of thousands of students is at stake.
How can we trust CXC's integrity moving forward? They have shown a complete disregard for basic human decency and diplomacy this year as well as the inability to be a valid path of assessment for students of the region. It is critical that the Government calls out CXC for what happened this year and that it does everything in its power to ensure that this never happens again.
Justice for CAPE and CSEC students 2020