JAMAICAN students will sit secondary level exit exams in July, Karl Samuda — the minister overseeing the education portfolio — announced yesterday.
According to Samuda, the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) papers, both administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), will begin on July 27.
“It takes about a couple of weeks, into August, to complete it, but the process will start on the 27th of July and the question of social distance can be accommodated quite easily, because all the other children are out of school and it will be quite convenient,” Samuda said during the weekly virtual news conference at Jamaica House at which the Government updates the nation on its COVID-19 response.
“We will now go about the business of making the logistical arrangements so that no one who is taking this exam, beyond the challenges that they have already had, will in any way be compromised,” added Samuda.
The decision is a climbdown by the Government, which earlier this month said it would reserve giving a final position on CXC’s decision to set the exams in July.
Last week a number of high school principals told the Jamaica Observer that delaying the exams could upend the start of the new academic year for first-year tertiary students.
Their position, though, ran counter to that of Jamaica Teachers’ Association President Owen Speid, who castigated CXC for the July exam date, despite what he said was the danger of COVID-19.
Yesterday, Samuda said some schools were ready for the exams and others were not. He added that the education authorities would do their best “to ensure that we facilitate our students in the best possible way to give the best chance to maximise their potential as they go forward”.
The exams, he explained, will be done in two modalities — via the Internet and paper-based.
He said the Government took the decision after he spoke with CXC officials.
“I put the case to them that we just need a little more time and they could appreciate that, and I am very happy to say that they accommodated us, perhaps not in whole but in part,” Samuda said.
“I am very happy that we have finalised the arrangement, and I think… it might be the best thing to get it behind us and move on to a new year and, I hope, new horizons,” he added.
In response to a question from the Observer, Samuda said the Government would subsidise transportation for students sitting the exams.
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