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Editorial: Rushing Students Into Exams Could Harm Their Futures

SHOULD students who have had to study at home through the pandemic have to take their examinations in the coming weeks?

It’s a thorny question – and while Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd seems determined to push through, there is understandable concern from children and parents that the students might not be prepared to the level they need for the examinations.

“Students were advised that the lockdown didn’t mean a vacation from school,” said Mr Lloyd, “PSAs and other media announcements made this plain and clear.”

That’s true – but has the level of involvement between students and teachers been to the level required to prepare them for exams?

Let’s take a look at Mr Lloyd’s own figures. He says registration has reached more than 48,000 students, with an average of 20,000 engaged daily. Engaged can mean different things – it could mean attending online classes, it could mean doing an assignment, it could mean checking emails.

Mr Lloyd’s figures are also not much different from what they were in April, when 40,000 students out of 60,000 were registered, and 20,000 were accessing the online platform each day. Back then, he said about 1,200 attended live sessions each day – and 1,200 out of 60,000 is significantly less impressive as a number.

As parents themselves will attest, the level of the work is perhaps not as involved as one would hope from schooling – a maths assignment here, an English project there but not the intensive hours in a classroom from a school day. In fairness, how could it be? Parents are doing their own work, managing the household, navigating the problems of the pandemic too.

Many children might not have the equipment to access the schoolwork either – either lacking devices to work on or internet access, or having to share devices with brothers and sisters and parents. It’s not easy, by any means.

Some parents have launched a petition, asking for forecast grades to be used instead of an examination – but that seems not to have found favour as a suggestion.

What are the alternatives? Could an extended summer school be held for examination year students to help prepare them? After all, many summer camps will have cancelled this year or may struggle to accommodate children amid the pandemic recovery. Could the year even be re-run? Between Hurricane Dorian and the coronavirus, this has been the most disrupted year for students – do they start the year again to make the most of their potential?

We don’t want to rush students through so they get bad grades that will forever sit on their resumé as a black mark from the effects of COVID-19.

“No one is forcing you to take any exams. That is your choice,” says Mr Lloyd. Perhaps not – but the list of alternatives is looking slim.

Moving on from Dr Sands issue? Hardly!

We’ve moved on, have we?

That’s the word from FNM chairman Carl Culmer over the issue of Dr Duane Sands’ resignation as Minister of Health.

He’s echoing the words of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last week, who was firmly avoiding answering questions about the resignation and why he chose to accept it.

“That story is dead,” said Mr Culmer. “The Prime Minister has already addressed that and that is finished as far as I am concerned.”

Except of course that the Prime Minister has not already addressed that. Dr Minnis got out a broom and tried to sweep it under the carpet – that’s not the same thing as addressing it.

The matter has indeed been thoroughly discussed in the media – in the sense that the media and others have been asking questions. Those questions have not been answered. We cannot move on until there are actual answers.

Dr Sands, for his part, revealed his frustration in The Nassau Guardian yesterday that a resignation letter was leaked that he says he did not write.

Who wrote it? Who leaked it? Two more questions to throw on the pile being ignored by the Prime Minister.

In the wake of Dr Sands’ comments, we of course contacted the Office of the Prime Minister for answers. Guess what – the Prime Minister who campaigned on transparency didn’t comment.

For those wanting to move on, here’s the thing – you don’t get to decide when enough answers have been given. The public does. Deny the public answers and they’ll remember that when they cast their votes next time. Then you might be the ones moving on.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 2 days ago

on Dr Sands the next question is who told the reporter that 6 people left the plane enabling them to ask Dr Sands a question that he was clearly confused by? Did they get that info from a source at the airport or did they get it from the PM'S office? The former would be usual, the latter would be earth shattering.

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ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Ah, finally someone who is thinking rationally. Literally the only reason I coukd see for rushing ahead with these exams is to have a calculated talking point, the Minis administration was so organized that we were able to hold end of year exams two weeks after reopening. Nothing else makes sense. These are futures being held in the balance. As to job prospects, everyone in the Bahanas knows we had an unprecedented crisis. If a student shows up with a 2.5, 3, 4 point gpa I'm sure no employer will reject them on the basis that they have no GCE'S.

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Giordano 3 weeks, 2 days ago

This is a process into the new normal education in The Bahamas which also should be 24/7 available also to the tertiary age community without any type of discrimination to set up preparedness for anytime they feel prepare to take an exam to move further to a next level. The ministry of education should have that kind of system in place already with sections of live lectures 24/7 and systematically other sections, by level, of course, that are systemic and not live also and clearly available anytime, anywhere in The Bahamas. That's why Internet Services should be totally sponsored by the government and free for everyone in the nation with a high quality. Once again, in The Bahamas QUALITY SHOULD GO FIRST.

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joeblow 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Actually failing to prepare for and then not passing exams is what can ruin a child future. We have decades of failed students WITHOUT ever having had COVID-19!

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momoyama 3 weeks, 2 days ago

You are either an FNM cabinet minister with nothing to do (like the rest of them) or somebody being paid by them to spout brainless propaganda. Either way, you are tiresome.

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ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Totally agree. But we can't ignore that we had a problem with participation before COVID. Now without direct interaction some of these students were further disadvantaged. I dont think we should bash them over the head for their failures we should try to figure out how to engage them so they want to learn. It won't work for all but we may be able to save some

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enough 3 weeks, 2 days ago

You know I think most parents are concerned about timing. We are not asking them to cancel the exams, we just cannot understand why the sudden rush. Private schools are ending this week and doing assessments/final exams. In fact last week teachers were telling students, as there had been no communication and school was closing in less than a week, that exams would probably happen in the Fall.

MOE wants to all of a sudden use the excuse everyone else in the region is doing it. Well guess what they announced the second week in May the dates for their exams. Also their exams, CXC, have an online option. Again why the rush to put students who have had to adjust to online learning the last 3 months , may not be in a frame of mind after all we have gone through to sit these. What is wrong with thinking out the box. Maybe open schools in August for review and exams happen mid August.

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