No repeat of CXC shame
THE Ministry of Education and the Overseas Examination Commission (OEC) are to introduce several measures in an effort to prevent a repeat of breaches which tarnished Jamaica’s reputation and left portfolio Minister Fayval Williams with egg on her face following the sitting of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) papers this year.
In May it was determined that the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) math paper had been leaked from a site in Jamaica, while, also in May, a fireproof cabinet containing examination papers was stolen from St James High School.
CXC previously announced that it was undertaking measures to bolster its security efforts, and on Wednesday Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr Kasan Troupe told a post-Cabinet media briefing that while the police continue their investigations into the two incidents, local education officials will be playing their part to prevent a repeat.
“It really cost us as a country. It was very embarrassing for our minister to sit in a regional meeting of ministers [and] for CXC to be explaining that there is a breach which will impact other students, and for us to be taking full responsibility and apologising for the disruption that had happened at that time,” said Troupe.
“For persons to break into a school and remove an examination cabinet — that disrupted a lot of things. It created physiological disruption for our students; we had to put a number of systems in place to make sure that the other exams could have been done and students could resit their exam,” added troupe.
She told the media briefing that the OEC is now going through an audit of all the exam safety cabinets in Jamaica schools.
“They are specially built for this, with special codes and so forth, so we are going to make sure that all of those systems are working.
“The last deliberations we had with OEC was to add to their budget the security CCTV [closed-circuit television] cameras — either to attach that to the cabinet itself or to install in the location of the cabinet so we can have instant footage of what’s happening around the papers,” Troupe said.
The permanent secretary also announced that retraining of principals will be implemented to ensure they observe all the protocols of exam administration.
“We get the sense from the audit that some of the expectations were relaxed a bit because of, over the years, … doing the exam with the same team. The OEC will also be strident and vigilant with who are selected to be exam managers for each school,” declared Troupe.
She said principals are also going to be asked to be careful in deciding who will move the exam papers to the examiner and back.
“We are asking for no compromise, regardless of your circumstance. We are going to be vigilant with those we have selected to work for us, [and] the OEC will also do some spot checks on the days so they will be having persons going in randomly [to] just check a school to see what’s happening and making sure that the papers are delivered. [And] once it is written we are going to be collecting, because we have had cases where papers are stored and [go] missing,” said Troupe.
“We are going to relook, we have relooked, and we are going to be vigilant this year. We cannot as a country afford another experience of this nature. It was very embarrassing for us and it was also a cost factor. For CXC to provide an alternative paper for our students, the Government had to foot that bill,” added Troupe as she appealed to students, parents and teachers to stand together in an effort to not have a repeat of this year’s breaches.
“We must protect the integrity of our exams if we are going to trust that once a student produces a result from their exam, it can stand and it will validate what they can do as a citizen of this country,” said Troupe.