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‘You Were Told - Exams Go Ahead’: Lloyd Insists Lockdown Was ‘Not A Holiday’ And State Tests Will Proceed

Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd in the House of Assembly. Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune staff

Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd in the House of Assembly. Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune staff

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

ts-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

DESPITE pushback from some quarters, the Ministry of Education remained firm yesterday on the July date for national exams, saying it was always known the tests were being postponed, not cancelled.

 Education Minister Jeff Lloyd said the decision to hold the exams next month was made after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the country had moved into stage three of its reopening plan.

“You can take the exams if you want to,” Mr Lloyd said at a virtual press conference yesterday. “No one is forcing you to take any exams. That is your choice. We are not forcing exams on anyone.”

He stressed that education officials had long planned to still hold the exams this year, saying they had been postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, not cancelled.

“It had always been the intention of the ministry to conduct external exams if conditions permitted,” the minister explained. “This is why it was repeatedly stated that the exams were postponed, not cancelled. We stated this from the beginning of the national lockdown. Students were advised that the lockdown didn’t mean a vacation from school. PSAs and other media announcements made this plain and clear.”

Noting the importance of the exams, he said that the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) tests are the catalyst for the advancement of students to a higher grade. He was also asked about the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations which are key to admission to University of The Bahamas (UB). UB is permitting students to enter this year on the basis of their last three years of high school. Students must still pass a placement exam to gain entrance. Students who have math and English language BGCSEs at grade C or above will be exempted from the placement test.

On Thursday, June 4, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, acting on the advice of the Ministry of Education, Mr Lloyd said, announced that the BJC and BGCSE exams will be held beginning July 13 this year.

The ministry, Mr Lloyd said, undertook the decision to conduct the exams after it was announced by the Prime Minister that phase three of the country’s reopening plan had commenced, and that educational operations could be conducted according to the health protocols.

While acknowledging that students and parents have gone through unprecedented times during the pandemic, Mr Lloyd said students should have been preparing for the tests. He said efforts were made to help students without devices to access virtual learning during the COVID-19 shutdown.

“Despite a virtual school that has seen registration reach over 48,000 students, and an average of 20,000 engaged daily, there are still many students who do not have a device or the internet, and would, necessarily, have been deprived of the benefit of continuing school,” he continued. “We understand that, and have made every effort to accommodate them.”

He added: “From the very date that school suspended face-to-face instructions, I, as minister, and we as a ministry, impressed upon our students that this time is not a vacation. You are still in school, we told them, and that you must continue your school work. This was communicated across all media platforms, including public service announcements.”

An online petition to cancel the exams and use forecasted grades had more than 8,000 signatures up to press time.

During the press conference, Mr Lloyd also observed a moment of silence in memory of 10-year-old Lorencia Walkes, the fifth grade student of Sybil Strachan Primary School who died as a result of being shot in the head on May 29 in the Carmichael Road area. He noted that the ministry shares the grief of the child’s family.

The ministry is providing grief counsellors for the Sybil Strachan community and the family to help them all through the tragic and unfortunate loss.

Comments

RealTalk 3 months, 3 weeks ago

“Despite a virtual school that has seen registration reach over 48,000 students, and an average of 20,000 engaged daily"...yeah sureee... LOL

By the way, Engaged and Effective are two different things.

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JokeyJack 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Many of those 48,000 students went to a wifi by a restaurant to register after they heard that the registration questions asked what type of devices they had. They had hoped to get tablets or something from the government. The rumour at the time was that Govt would start with those already on the lunch program. That was the last heard on this matter.

We never heard if lunch program students got tablets or even if they got lunch.

Now however, they are being punished for flying to Paris and staying at the Ritz Carlton for three months instead of studying.

My question would be why didnt they choose to "accidentally lose" their return flight tickets? LOL

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The former Deacon is the man . If he says so it is so. The Bahamian people voted for him in large numbers. So why complain now.??

Lloyd is large and in charge. You go Mr: Lloyd you just go.

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JackArawak 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Just give everyone a D- and save the time, money and effort of holding the exams

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bogart 3 months, 3 weeks ago

"...I, as Minister, and we as a ministry, impressed upon these students that this time is not a vacation....."

Shocking that the authorities from the top have failed to understand or be aware of the full dynamics and gravity of the situation and continues to do so even after their repeated failures.

Many of these students should already known by authorities pre Corvid 19 to reside survive reside in abject poverty, requiring daily govt lunches, uniforms, teachers as the govt should know act as parent roles for students from home chellenges run by single parent, homes without electricity, water supply needed in Nassau Village areas from wells have to be just installed. Added to these pre existing challenges the top authorities should fully know of the massive employment being laid off many single parent in this category, parent have little money, having to line up for NIB, depending on seeking donated foods going hungry along with siblings, living in small cramped home, having to find rent and on and on .....The top authorities just seem to not understand the massive challenges students have daily experienced in their lives.

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tribanon 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Many of these underprivileged and impoverished students are paying a dear price for the meagre shingles their parents took in exchange for their vote at each general election. Sad.

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Hoda 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Students who find themselves in the category you describe should be accommodated. Are you saying every student scheduled to sit these exams are?

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ThisIsOurs 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I believe any student who says "I'm not ready" should be given the option to take the exam in 3 months. If this thing were executed with any semblance of planning we'd know how many wanted to take the exam in July and how many didn't.

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Hoda 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Okay, thats reasonable. You dont think its a little different from saying every child in the bahamas, lives in abject poverty, has no wifi, cell phone, device or running water, and because of this they couldnt study.... and no the students can only bear so much responsibilty. But, if your parents...

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TalRussell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

There are six power-hungry crown ministers who fit well into placing the PopoulatiosOrdinary At Large POAL being nade live under a red coats one-party authoritarianism where the rules flipflop from week to week - including preventing the POAL from assembly worshiping, and burials. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

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hrysippus 3 months, 3 weeks ago

How refreshing to have a cabinet minister who simply speaks the truth. Congratulations Hon. Jeff Lloyd, you told everyone what was going to happen long time and now it is actually happening there is the usual whining from the usual people. Stay the course please.

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TigerB 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Perhaps with these smaller number taking the exams the D average might be higher

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ThisIsOurs 3 months, 3 weeks ago

yeah, and we'll pay for it on the back end when a greater percentage of young Bahamians are left behind.

I keep wondering what point are we trying to prove? You have to be psychologically prepared to take exams. We have this unusual circumstance that the govt wants us to give them slack for but won't allow the same to 17 and 18 year olds.

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SP 3 months, 3 weeks ago

"There are still many students who do not have a device or the internet, and would, necessarily, have been deprived of the benefit of continuing school,”. So why the hell are you pushing them for what we all know most cannot possibly be ready for??

My GOD man have a heart! Most of these kids and their parents are suffering from multiple effects of COVID19 and the debilitating lockdowns, the mental anguish of watching parents worry about rent, food, light, medical bills, and this George Floyd matter which is very disturbing even to adults has to be most troubling to children. How the hell can you expect them to concentrate on studies while being bombarded with so many life-changing negatives happening?

What is the harm of delaying exams and giving these children every possible opportunity to catch up?

We don't need white police brutality. From the ridiculous coconut man judge to Jeff Lloyd, why are the Bahamas always ready to beat up, degrade, and hurt our own people?

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geostorm 3 months, 3 weeks ago

We are always looking for excuses. Kudos to Mr. Lloyd for sticking with the business at hand. We were told that the exams would be postponed, not sure why people are all up in arms now that a date has been set.

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