For a fourth time, parents and students of the group – Justice for CSEC and CAPE 2020 – have staged a protest over the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and Education Ministry’s handling of queries over results of the exams.
The group representing several schools, among them Fatima College, St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain, Hillview College and ASJA Girls’ College, San Fernando came out to Queen’s Park Savannah, opposite Queen’s Royal College, on Saturday afternoon with placards.
Parent representative Sherry Sookoo said the lack of open dialogue between the ministry and the group is the reason for the continued protest.
“A lot of parents have written letters to the Ministry of Education we have not gotten a feed back from them,” Sookoo said.
The group saw the ministry’s lack of response as negligence. “I would believe they do not care at all for our nation’s children and our children are supposed to be the future leaders of this nation, how can you not care?”
Sookoo said an estimated 18,000 students were affected.
She said the group has also been unable to receive any response from the Barbados-based CXC.
“CXC has blocked mails from coming in. Maybe from the second week after we got results we were unable to send any e-mails to them, it (e-mails) come right back and calls go unanswered.”
Sookoo said parents and students were concerned the results under query would affect their upcoming exams and chances for entry into universities.
“I actually know of students who were accepted into universities based on their unit I CAPE grades and I’m talking about students who got all grade I and all A profiles in unit I. When a university sees these results they say, ‘Oh I’m sure this child is going to do well’ so they took them in, however come unit II they did not get the grades that the university was expecting and they revoked their offers.”
She said the grading has caused financial distress for some families.
“It has affected families financially, students were working, giving it their all with the hopes of getting a scholarship now that their unit II grades are not what they were expecting and with the minister saying scholarships have been cut by 75 per cent, it is very hard, it is way more competitive. We have gone from 400 scholarships to 100 scholarships.”
Sookoo said the group was concerned that top performing students received low grades, while others who had lower grades received higher grades than the top performers.
The group filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for CXC, through the ministry, to allow parents to view their children’s ‘raw’ grade. The group’s lawyers also sent a pre-action protocol letter to the CXC board and is yet to receive a reply.
Sookoo said the next step for the group would be to file a class action lawsuit. “Under the Freedom of Information Act, section 39, once 30 days have passed and you haven’t gotten a reply from the ministry to do this FOIA we can ask for a redress and do a judicial review.” The first time the group protested was on October 19 outside of the Red House, Port of Spain.
The ministry has also asked CXC for a report on the queries over results by local students. There has been region-wide protests over the results of the exams.