Fri | Feb 26, 2021

Schools want physical classes for some CXC students

Published:Thursday | December 31, 2020 | 12:16 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Lynton Weir, president of the Association of Principals and Vice-Principals.
Lynton Weir, president of the Association of Principals and Vice-Principals.

With the new school term set to begin next Monday, at least one principals’ group is renewing concerns about the ongoing challenges with remote learning even as it awaits a decision from the Ministry of Education on the format classes will take.

In early December, Education Minister Fayval Williams told the House of Representatives that 86 schools had indicated their preference to commence face-to-face classes in the new year.

At that time, 125 primary and high schools were found to be COVID-19-compliant and, therefore, ready for phased face-to-face reopening.

President of the Association of Principals and Vice-Principals Lynton Weir told The Gleaner yesterday that the organisation was still concerned about the challenges accessing Internet service.

“There is a concern about lack of Internet activity in the home and in schools. There are some teachers who live in some of the communities where our children live, and they are having the same challenges. Some teachers go into the physical school to have their classes so that their students online can be catered to,” he said.

Inadequate preparation

Weir said that the grade 11 to 13 cohort, which will be sitting Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)-administered tests in 2021, particularly those doing practical subjects, are not being adequately prepared.

He also revealed that fewer students have paid examination fees as some are frustrated while some parents have lost their jobs, rendering them unable to pay for their children to sit the tests.

“For electrical installation, woodwork, metalwork, agricultural science, and home economics, our teachers have not been able to interface with those students to provide any form of practical to those students, and CXC assesses both theory and practical,” he lamented.

Weir is appealing to the education ministry to allow schools to host physical classes at least twice per week for students registered for said subjects.

Last term, 39 schools participated in face-to-face classes, including 17 schools that were part of the two-week pilot programme, following mass school closure, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The education minister had also said that CXC has explained that based on its psychometrical analysis, it is not recommended that it reduce the content coverage for exams, but that it proceed with a delayed sitting of the exam from May-June to June-July given the ongoing pandemic.

“In being fair to our learners, we should be really testing the taught curriculum, but we still have another four months to go, so let’s see how much of it our teachers will be able to communicate and how much our students can absorb,” Weir said.

The regional examination body has also proposed a return to the administration of the three components of the exams – Papers 1 and 2 as well as the school-based assessments (SBA) – or Paper 3, where applicable. CXC plans to do a full moderation of SBAs going forward.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com