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8,000 Call For Exams To Be Cancelled

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

OVER 8,000 students and parents across the country have signed an online petition calling for the cancellation of the country’s national examinations which are set to begin next month.

The exams, which usually start in April, were postponed after the government closed schools in the country in March as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take effect.

Since then, many parents and students have remained uncertain when the national exams would be held.

However, during a press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis gave an update, saying the 2020 tests will now be held on July 13.

Further information, he said, is expected to be provided by Education Minister Jeff Lloyd in the House of Assembly this week.

The announcement immediately sparked criticism from the public, with many calling for the government to cancel or postpone this year’s exams – saying the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has left many students both physically and mentally unprepared.

Abaco resident Marion Ramsey told The Tribune yesterday that her 15-year-old daughter is supposed to take five BJCs this year.

However, as a result of Hurricane Dorian and now the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Ramsey said the situation has taken a mental toll on her daughter, dampening her ability to remain focused on her studies.

“My daughters have been doing online classes, but they ain’t ready. We are living in a very tight space and everyone is miserable. I think they should be put off at a later date because they ain’t ready,” she said yesterday.

Some teachers have taken to Facebook, asking that educators be given a raise to mark the upcoming exams.

One teacher said: “Who will watch my children, cook for them, clean my house etc? When we are marking in the heat and the bugs and rodents are running around our feet while we mark sometimes until 9pm or later, as well as weekends and holidays. . .where are you?”

Others have taken to social media to express their anger over the revised dates, noting a lack of learning resources for disadvantaged students as a reason why the dates should be postponed.

One Facebook user posted: “The results will be disastrous. A lot of kids don’t have cell phones, no TV, no tablets. I’ve seen kids going home to houses with barely (any) running water, no light. Not to mention they didn’t have the device to view online classes. Why set the date a month away? This is ridiculous, the date should be set for November.”

However, there are some residents who don’t think the dates should be cancelled or postponed, saying students had ample time to prepare for them.

One person said: “Kids had three years to prepare for these exams. They were displaced for two months. They should be ready to sit these exams. They have one more month to review their work. Get to it and stop whining.”

A petition has been launched over the issue, calling for the use of forecasted grades instead of national exams. As of Sunday, over 8,000 votes were cast in favour of cancelling the annual exams.

The petition reads: “Due to the coronavirus pandemic, schools have been closed since March 16, 2020. Many students do not have the privilege to access electronic devices which resulted in not being allowed access to virtual education platforms.

“However, the prime minister has decided to continue with national exams. In the event that there is an emergency forecasted grades have been put in place to ensure that students receive a grade. Sign this petition to cancel national exams and use forecasted grades.”

Ms Ramsey said although she has not seen or signed the petition circulation on social media, she stands in solidarity with other parents and teachers calling for the dates to be postponed.

When contacted for comment by The Tribune yesterday, Mr Lloyd said he will address all public concerns during a Ministry of Education press conference today.

Comments

tribanon 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Education officials should just call it a day and give all of these students a Grade 'A' or First Class Pass. These wanting students and their equally wanting parents surely deserve nothing less. Upon graduation the students can find employment with government, but not with much pay or benefits once the IMF starts calling all the shots as regards our country's finances.

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moncurcool 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The petition reads: “Due to the coronavirus pandemic, schools have been closed since March 16, 2020. Many students do not have the privilege to access electronic devices which resulted in not being allowed access to virtual education platforms.

How much is many students with access? Is is 5%? 20%? 80%? No way a petition like that should be placed out without giving the evidence to support it.

And then government teachers crying for more pay, many of them who were not teaching since March but bbeingpaid. Child please.

Why do we as Bahamians always have to want to find a way out rather than rise up to a challenge?

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Hoda 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I kinda have to agree. Only two months of teaching would have remained, probably should have still been preparing or ensuring that your children were preparing or operating as if it would still happening until it was cancelled, in particular persons residing in the capital. I assume they still expect the students to matriculate or move on to the next year. However, if they don’t wanna do it don’t do it cause they only gonna perform poorly; or push them back to December.

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DEDDIE 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Solution is quite simple. If you don't want your child to take the exam don't let them go to the exam center. I for one want my child to take the exams.

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tribanon 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Good for you! Sadly, there are too few responsible parents like you.

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tetelestai 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This has nothing to do with responsible. If I, as a parent, lost my job and cant feed my children, then how the heck do you expect me to pay for electricity and cable (for wifi)? Losing my job has absolutely nothing to do with being responsible. My kids can't attend virtual sessions because, hello, there is no internet. So my child suffer because of COVID-19? Absolute rubbish.
Now, I agree with Jeff, the exams are "elective" - but the problem is that students who were not able to keep up with virtual classes will be disadvantaged, both in terms of grades, and in trying to garner employment or post-secondary education. Mr. Lloyd should keep the exams open, but, no child should be penalized for failing to take exams this year. This is a really easy situation to solve.

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Time to stop looking for excuses irresponsible & entitled Bahamians ………. MAN UP

An extra TWO months of study should produce even better results this year

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mandela 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The national exams were scheduled to begin on April 15th, COVID-19 caused the closing of schools around the second or third week of March, by the time school closed the students who were supposed to be taking exams should have already been prepared and just reviewing. If they were not prepared two or three weeks before April 15th then they will never be prepared and ready, the students knew, the parents knew that they will have to take the national exam when the virus simmers down or go away, they say they ain't ready now, so the question is when will they be ready?

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RealTalk 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Bahamians always want to talk down on the younger generation. SHAME ON YOU OLD PEOPLE

There is a saying, "Put up or Shut up". If yinna ain't giving out scholarships or free classes to help the students, please do the future generation a favor and put a sock in it

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DontAssume 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Unbelievable! " Bahamians always want to talk down on the younger generation"? This so-called "younger generation" has repeatedly talked down themselves...no one needs to do that for them. All of you should be ashamed (the 8000 students and parents, as well as all the enablers) for this farce of an excuse. Preparation for these national examinations would've/should've already passed the stage of complete; where reviewing would've/should've been in full swing. So, the claimed lack of preparedness is baseless. We were in quarantine/24-hr weekend lockdowns/business closures--come off of it, we were all in the house or should've been! But, we as Bahamians are so accustomed and readily accept mediocrity, our entire existence exudes mediocrity--inclusive of excuses.

The date these examinations are now scheduled to begin gives most, if not all, sufficient time to continue their refresher (for the ones that were preparing as they should have) and some time to study (for the ones that decided not to). You all, along with the excuse spewing teachers and parents, are just enablers...six (6) years of high school (Junior and Senior), but you're not ready, really? "please do the future generation a favor"? They need to do themselves a favor and be accountable and stop deflecting. They all (students) have the option, to show up or not, for the examinations--cancellation should not be considered, maybe an additional month given; these examinations are very important for students.

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RealTalk 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I love your points. I'm looking at it from a different stance. Let's parley.

The schools were closed on March 15th. The BGCSE Math was set to start around May 15th (an additional 60 days with their teacher) and the BJC Math around June 15th (an additional 90 days with their teacher). Despite popular belief that the students should be in revision mode; the majority of the time, the teacher has not yet completed all of the topics for the exam. Believe it or not, these additional days could have made a difference between a pass and a fail.

The students we're home for 3 months. Imagine being told repeatedly by the PM, who is also a doctor that this Coronavirus can "kill you". Imagine both parents being laid off from work. They said unemployment was up to 40%. We are creatures of habit and to suddenly have your world turn upside down can be overwhelming. The mental, emotional, and financial unstableness can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Very few possess the tenacity and grit to stay on course.

All of that to say, I agree wholeheartedly with your last point. I don't think the exams should be canceled. But, I do think that it is only fair to give the students the additional days they would have had before the closure of schools. For some subjects, it would be 45 days, for some 60 days, and for others 90 days.

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moncurcool 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Let's parlay as you say:

The extra days would only be for review. If you look at the BJC syllabus, that can be completed in 2 years, as students are able to write BJC from grade 8. It is the same with BGCSE. Students can write it in grade 11.

The so called 8000 are representative sadly of what keeps our country back. They had ample time to prepare. Even being home, there was access to online learning and those who didn't have access, there were a number of NGOs out there providing that ability.

Excuse making will never move us to a higher level of development as a country.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The those lazy students and deadbeat parent arguments remind me of the discussion on education in general and school violence. We go on and on about the problem, pointing out how "we" are better than them because we did our work and we trained our kids so they can do it too and its all their fault. At the end of the day what is the goal? To point out how much better we are or to solve the problem? What will solve the problem? Will allowing extra time address those we know are unprepared? Then do that. Begin with the end in mind. Whats the point of forcing them to either take the exam theyre not prepared for or bypass it and have nothing?

These are kids. They're easily distracted under normal circumstances. Do I expect them to be suddenly super disciplined now that they dont have to get up at 6 every morning to catch a bus and sit in class for 6 hours and they were thrown some teach yourself the coursework material? No I expect the opposite. MY planning should have reflected thst.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Repost from weekend:

"address on Thursday, Dr Minnis also gave an update concerning the national BJC and BGCSE dates, saying the examinations will be begin on July 13."

that's not good. You haven't even psychologically prepared students to take exams much less given them proper instruction over the last 3 months and you notify them a week before they start? The students who had resources may be ready to go, Id make it optional. The ones who want to go ahead can and then have a special sitting in another 3 months. The ones who chose not to take exams now go through a special summer camp to get them psychologically prepared to take the exams.

I suppose it would all depend on the logistics of some taking now, some taking in 3 months or everyone taking in 3 months. But the decision has been made already by the decider. I'm not sure what's the rush, colleges have already indicated that they're willing to relax entry requirements

I can't read clearly, I said 1 week it's 1 month argument still applies.

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sealice 4 months, 2 weeks ago

For years i always blamed the "D" average on the government and hoped it wasn't the parents fault ..... but joining your kids against the testing just reaffirms you all got Flippin D's and somehow think that's acceptable? Why are you letting the PLP and FNM control your minds by not letting them develop???

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tribanon 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Your poignant questions deserve answers from one or more of Minnis's many D- educated ardent supporters who troll posters to websites like this one, e.g. topdude, stillwaters and/or tetelestai. LOL

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