High level of absenteeism recorded at CXC exams; Manickchand laments uneven preparedness

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While there were several initiatives implemented by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to make this year’s CSEC and CAPE examinations more flexible, there was still a high level of absenteeism recorded, according to the Director of Operations at CXC, Dr. Nicole Manning.

Dr. Manning is part of the team that travelled to Guyana for the announcement of this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE). As she presented those results, she highlighted that the number of candidates absent from this year’s examinations is the highest in four years.

At the CAPE level, almost nine per cent of the 27,750 candidates registered for the examinations were absent.

“… this group would have registered, not necessarily deferred, but would have decided not to attend the examination,” Dr. Manning said.

What is worse, she said, is that at the CSEC level, some 11.23 per cent of the 103,445 candidates were absent.

Director of Operations at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Dr. Nicole Manning (Photo: Vishani Ragobeer/October 14, 2021)

With the level of absenteeism this high, the News Room asked Dr Manning if the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 had any impact on this.  In response, Dr. Manning stated that additional studies would be needed to confirm whether the closure of schools caused or contributed to the level of absenteeism.

Guyana’s Minister of Education Priya Manickchand, however, stated that learning losses, student displacement, dropouts and psychosocial impacts are all challenges that emanated from the pandemic and the resulting schools’ closure.

“The pandemic caught us at widely different levels of readiness for the unprecedented demands and new modes of education delivery.

“Equally notable is that our systems responded with varying degrees of alacrity,” Manickchand stated.

And, according to her, some of the challenges that impacted countries and communities in different ways include the digital divide and stark socioeconomic disparities in society.

She also pointed out: “With the protracted closure of schools, we’ve had to contend with a range of related issues affecting our children from poor diets and food insecurity to reduced physical activity and numerous related psychosocial and personal well-being issues.”

Cognisant of these challenges, Manickchand emphasised that countries across the Caribbean should work together to ensure that learning losses do not result in lifelong challenges for the children.

In fact, she called on CXC to ensure that a new era of collective engagement can be ushered in across the region.

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