Students in primary schools across the nation may not be able to write the Grade Six National Assessment tests in June, while the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) exams scheduled for May/June could be delayed as a result of the threat of the coronavirus.
Education Minister Michael Browne said the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) — which administers the CSEC exams throughout the region — had closed its offices in Barbados and Jamaica.
Locally, the Grade Six National Assessment is the rite of passage for students entering the secondary school system at the start of the school year in September, but this would likely be delayed until January 2021.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Browne revealed that ministers across the region were currently discussing the CSEC reality as they seek to implement COVID-19 protocols.
This week, CXC issued a statement, which said that it is taking note of developments surrounding the illness and will implement necessary changes to minimize disruption. The examination body convened a meeting with Caribbean ministers of education to discuss the way forward.
Browne said the re-scheduling of exams was not unique to Antigua and Barbuda.
“This is a widespread conversation that is taking place across the region, so that panic by parents that my child will not take their exams is not needed because we are ensuring that scholarly pursuit is able to continue,” said Browne.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers, Ashworth Azille, said local schools are prepared to continue the education process past the current hiatus to ensure a degree of normalcy among students.
“Some schools have been making moves to integrate the alternative classes into their normal operations. And so many of them have been at a great state of readiness,” he said.
He said teachers have been showing students how to use various platforms such as Edmodo and Google Classroom to access study materials.
Azille also said that students at Clare Hall Secondary School are prepped to access information via the online platforms so that they may complete their school-based assessments in preparation for their CXC examinations.
Several other primary and secondary schools are following a similar format.
“Secondary school principals met on Monday to provide a status update to education officers and at the primary school level there has been some level of works being copied and materials being prepared for students by the teachers,” he added.
This is to ensure students are up to speed and able to perform when exam time comes.