Headache for student of Queens College who misses exams

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 20, 2018

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WHEN Ricolette Reid received a flyer from her cousin last summer advertising affordable rates for classes at Queens College in Parkington Plaza, Kingston, to resit Caribbean Examinations Council subjects, she thought she was a step closer to achieving her goals.

However, instead of resitting the Mathematics and English A exams this year, the 18-year-old will have to wait another year.

Reid, who was enrolled at the school for a term and had paid to resit the exams, says she is yet to receive her timetable which would have detailed her examination centre and schedule of exams.

In fact, Reid told the Jamaica Observer that on November 10, 2017, she paid $12,746 to the school's bank account in order to sit the exams.

“I went the first term and I did not go back because the classes were short and the Maths teacher only worked past papers. I did not get the concept how to do the topics,” Reid told the Sunday Observer.

Although she opted to stay home, Reid said she was prepared to sit her exams last week.

“I used the past papers that I bought from the school with a mathematics book I had, to learn the concepts and practise,” Reid reasoned.

The Edith Dalton James High alumna, whose initial plan was to attend sixth form at St Andrew Technical High School, couldn't do so because her parents were unable to financially assist both her and her brother, who is a first-year student at a university.

The teenager, who had received a grade three in the English A exam last year, said that when she contacted Queens College on April 27, seeking her CXC timetable, she was told that she only attended one term at the institution and that she had breached her contract with the school.

According to the 18-year-old, she was told by the school's secretary that she would have to pay $15,000 for the two terms she had missed in order to collect he timetable. She said she did just that.

“I went to ... [a] bank and I paid the money. When I went to the school with the receipt from [the bank] to collect the information, the secretary told me that she don't have it and that the due date had gone to collect the candidate number and timetable. I asked her how comes she don't have the information because it wasn't the day of the exam yet.

“She said [the principal] is not there and he will be there Saturday. I asked her what time I should come and she said they would give me a call and I have been waiting on that call,” Reid explained, adding that if it wasn't for her boyfriend, who is also a student and had wished her good luck last week Tuesday, she would not have known the date of her two exams.

Reid said that when she visited the institution, last week Tuesday, it was closed. However, there was a list of approximately five students' names, along with the name of a church that was being used as an examination centre, that was posted to the gate to the school. Her name was not on the list.

A shocked Reid said she went to the Half-Way-Tree Police Station and made a report, then she went to the Overseas Examinations Council where she was told that she had not been registered for the exam.

Reid also said she visited the Ministry of Education last week Wednesday, where she made a report and was informed that Queens College was not registered with the ministry.

Another student, who spoke with the Observer on condition of anonymity, said she, too, attended the institution for one term, paid for the exam but did not sit it.

The student, who saw the school's brochure at her workplace and thought that the rates per subject were affordable, said after she registered at the institution she realised that her needs were not being met.

“I started going to class on Saturdays between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm. The class normally starts after 11:00 pm. When I realised this was a trend, I decided to stop going to the class the ending of November,” the student said.

“He (the teacher) wasn't teaching. He was working past papers from a booklet he insisted we purchase for $2,500, which was basically CXC papers. I couldn't stay at a class like that, I needed teaching to understand the concepts,” she continued.

Like Reid, the student also said she was prepared to sit the exam.

“I was practising on my own and watching YouTube videos before I began asking for help,” she said, adding that shortly after that she started attending another institution.

She said that when she contacted the institution in March to enquire about her timetable for the external examination, the secretary took her information and said someone would give her a call.

Within two minutes, she said she was contacted by the principal of the school, who told her that she signed a contract to attend the institution for three terms and if she did not pay the money for the other terms, he would serve her with a summons.

The student, who had completed the course work for her degree but was unable to collect her certificate because she did not have a pass in mathematics, said she contacted an attorney who requested a copy of the contract.

She said that when she called the institution seeking a soft copy of the contract, she was told that it did not have one to send to her.

“In April I called the school to find out if the timetable was ready, she (the secretary) said it was not ready. I called CXC to find out when the timetables would be ready. They basically said it wasn't ready but said it would be ready within the next two weeks. I asked if I could collect mine from them, they said no, I have to collect it from the institution where I had registered,” she said.

The woman said that when she went to the school on May 4, the secretary told her that the principal had the timetable and he was not there.

She said she asked the secretary to call him but she refused to do so. She said, eventually, she left.

“When I contacted them on Tuesday [last week], the telephones rang without an answer. When my co-worker called the school trying to find out if the claims were true, the secretary told her nothing nuh go suh, a lie, and I could collect the timetable on Tuesday. When I went there, the school was closed. There was a sign with about five names on it stating that the following students should go to [a church] to sit the exam. My name was not on the list,” she said, adding that when she went to the Overseas Examination Commission she was told that she was not registered to sit the exam.

When the Sunday Observer contacted the school last week Wednesday, the secretary said that the principal was not there to address the issue.

However, the newspaper was told that he would have returned the call. A week later, no call was received. The Sunday Observer visited the school on Friday, it was still closed. Calls went to voice mail.

On Thursday, when the telephone call was not forthcoming, the Sunday Observer visited the institution but it was closed.

When the Sunday Observer contacted the secretary, she said she was at an examination centre. However, she refused to state the name of the centre.

The Sunday Observer contacted the churches in the Corporate Area, only one of which was operating as an examination centre.

When the news team visited the location, the team was told that another church had been used to accommodate some students from Queens College last week Wednesday.

Additionally, the individual stated that prior to invigilating the exams, they were instructed to administer the exam to whomever was presented with a timetable, whether or not they had outstanding balances with independent institutions.

A number of questions were sent to the Ministry of Education via e-mail, seeking a comment on the matter. However, the ministry has not responded to the questions.

In the meantime, the Overseas Examination Commission's director of marketing and customer relations said she could not verify whether or not the two students were registered.

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