Mon | Jul 13, 2020

Why Jamaica has brought forward CSEC exam dates

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Samuda ... there has been widespread consultation in the education sector to arrive at the dates.

Karl Samuda, the minister with responsibility for education has sought to explain why his ministry accepted a request by the Caribbean Examinations Council to bring forward the date for external exams.

More than a week ago, Samuda had said the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CESC) exams would begin on July 27.

However, on Sunday, he said they would instead begin on July 13.

Some 132,000 Jamaican students will sit the CSEC exams.

Addressing the issue in Parliament on Tuesday, Samuda said the new start date would allow students to get a breather before the 2020-2021 academic year.

“The earlier start date will facilitate the completion of the examination by August 3, enabling the students to have a one-month break before the start of the new school year,” Samuda told the House of Representatives.

He said based on all consultations, the ministry is satisfied that in most instances, the year’s syllabus will be completed by the end of the school term.

Exam results are expected in the third week of September.


Samuda said there had been widespread consultation in the education sector to arrive at the dates.

“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has engaged in consultation of principals of secondary schools, the Association of principals and vice-principals, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, the ecumenical church group, the Parent-Teacher Association, and the Jamaica Prefects Association,” Samuda stated.

He also said the National Secondary Students’ Council was consulted.

“The National Secondary Students’ Council public relations officer is on record in the meeting noting that a delay in the exams will hold back the students. She argued that such a decision would adversely affect students’ chances of getting into universities overseas for the 2020-21 school year,” said Samuda, as he apologised for misunderstanding surrounding an initial statement.

In the meantime, Opposition Spokesman on Education Peter Bunting said the Government had bungled the management of the sector during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have seen so many stops and starts, flips and flops from the minister on policy and operational issues since the start of this COVID lockdown,” Bunting said.

The Manchester Central member of parliament said that most of the issues were unforced errors on Samuda’s part.

He accused the Government of being reluctant to accept “constructive” suggestions from the Opposition.

“But in almost every case, they have had to grudgingly adopt it after initially resisting it,” Bunting said.

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