By Isanella Patoir
Queen’s College, Guyana’s top secondary school, says it will file an injunction at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) seeking to block the official declaration of the results for this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) if officials do not review the grades.
“We have already consulted a lawyer, our intention is to ensure that we file an injunction to block the declaration of the results,” the schools’ principal, Jackie Ralph told reporters during a press conference Thursday.
“We are not prepared to accept the position that CXC has taken and we intend to pursue this matter vigorously with the view to salvage whatever they have done to destroy our students’ mental and emotional capacity.”
The examinations which were held in July and August this year were written under different circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The preliminary results were released on September 22 and hundreds of students have so far uncovered major discrepancies with their grades.
Students and schools in other Caribbean countries have also complained bitterly of similar discrepancies.
The Principal stated that a meeting was held with parents, students and the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand on Wednesday night in an effort to gather as much data as possible to accurately analyze the school’s performance and to better build the case.
“I have been at the helm of this institution for the last seven years during this time we have always being able to measure our success and to celebrate the numerous successes of our students, however, this year we have noted that our students’ grades have shown discrepancies and disparities,” the Principal said.
So far, 121 students so far from Queens College who wrote the exams have submitted queries to the school via a spreadsheet. A total of 166 students wrote the CAPE exams and 95 wrote CSEC from this Secondary School.
The Principal explained that results so far show that the students underperformed in subject areas such as Integrated Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Pure Mathematics Unit 1 and 2, Additional Mathematics, Geography and Social Studies.
The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) also did not provide what grading method was used to access these results. The Principal said efforts to gain access to the raw grades have so far proved futile.
The Principal explained that Queens College has been able to track the students’ performance over the years; they want a forensic audit to be done into the exams this year.
“We did indicate our intention that if CXC does not bend we will petition and we plan to do through the Ministry of Education to remove Guyana from writing the CXC examinations. There are other examinations bodies and we can very well carry out business there,” the Principal said.
Queens College paid about $15M to CXC this year for the exams.
Meanwhile, External Coordinator for Examination at QC Samantha Liverpool said it was basically impossible to fail the exams. She explained that all School-Based Assessments (SBAs) were submitted on time and received positive feedbacks. Additionally, 80% of questions were repeated on numerous exam papers from previous years.
“And so when I look at a student who would have gained over 95% in an SBA, looking at a paper where over 80% of the questions came back, please don’t tell me a Queens College student failed that exam,” Liverpool said.
Additionally, President of the Bishops’ High School Old Students Association, Kadeem Davis was also present at the press conference and echoed the concerns of QC.
Davis said when CXC made the decision to change how the exams are written, the students were concerned about its integrity.
“We demand justice not only for the Bishop’s High School Old Students Association and our students but we demand justice for all of the students who sat this year’s examination,” Davis said.
He further said that Bishop’s is known for producing excellent results. A total of 95 students wrote CSEC and 41 wrote CAPE from Bishops’ High.
“…and this year the Council is telling us that our students have apparently failed, our students have not done the work, for numerous subjects many of our students received ungraded results…they submitted SBAs and they have done the examination and CXC is saying that they deserve grades four, five and six, it is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, students from QC were joined by students from the Bishops’ High School and St Joseph High to protest the unacceptable grades.
The protest was held in the QC compound where students held placards questioning the grading system used and demanding that the results are re-graded.