Monday 19 October, 2020

VIDEO: 5 Reasons why children are protesting their CSEC, CAPE grades

Students protesting in Barbados on September 25, 2020.

Students protesting in Barbados on September 25, 2020.

Chants of "fix our grades" went up outside the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Headquarters in Barbados at least two days since the official release of the July 2020 results on September 22.

Students have been organising protests across the islands including in Barbados and Guyana, with Ministries of Education in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados echoing the calls of their candidates for CXC to look into this grading matter with haste.

But some young adults, adults and seniors are saying that the students should not protest.

However, students have the right to protest because of their July 2020 CXC results.


Video caption: Students in Barbados protesting their CAPE grades outside the CXC Headquarters in Barbados on September 25, 2020.

To some the protests are for nothing. To some protesting this makes no sense. To some the question is why only certain schools, forgetting that students from any and all secondary schools can attend Sixth Form at "the certain schools". To some, the chance that the grade could come back worse instead of better is cause to stand down and stay quiet. But what if it improves?

With some people not understanding the motivation that is driving the protesting students, here are some reasons why these students are taking to the streets:

1. Time

These students spent the last year or two out of their five or in some cases seven years of school to prepare for these exams. Having to resit an exam next year means that they will lose a year that they can never get back, and if the error was not theirs or the grade improves after review, that is a lost year that is of no fault of their own. And some students are strong when they matriculate from educational level to the next level without any breaks. A break can break some students.

2. University

Some universities accepted CAPE candidates based on their CSEC grades and in some cases they may be able to continue their tertiary education despite the grades received now, but in other cases some students have lost their spots. That is, their dreams of studying abroad at the university that had granted them a conditional offer are gone. Some universities have taken their offers off the table during this saga.

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3. Employment

In the year 2000 and 20, can you believe that a Caribbean woman who holds a Masters degree was asked to present her CSEC grades by a potential employer? She has since attained an Associate degree, a Bachelors and a Masters plus has years of work experience, but she was asked to bring in an original copy of her CSEC results to qualify for consideration for a managerial post at a Caribbean company.

4. Scholarships and Exhibitions

In a time when most if not everyone around the globe is budgeting and saving wherever possible due to the economic impact of COVID-19, a great percentage of students were working hard and banking on qualifying for a scholarship or exhibition to get financial assistance that would ensure they can pursue this next step along their educational journey at the institution of their choice. With parents and guardians cutting and contriving due to being laid-off or let go by their employers, without financial aid that requires no payback like a loan, these children are feeling out to sea emotionally and mentally especially. 

5. Certainty

Nothing kills hopes, dreams and futures like the 'What if' bug.

What if the grades are wrong? What if I could have had a regrade and got 1s instead of 4s? What if my teacher's predictions about a scholarship were right? What if I stay quiet and could have gotten all 1s on review?

And the biggest outcry by many of these children who came out of their July/August exams is that they were certain of their grades because it was multiple choice and it seems that numerous questions were repeated from past papers. Those who are taking the streets with placards say that they went in with high School-Based Assessment grades and were certain that their grades would be good.

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