BUT president Belinda Wilson.
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
WITH national examinations scheduled to begin next week, the head of the Bahamas Union of Teachers says some students are currently “inadequately prepared” to sit the tests.
“The Bahamas Union of Teachers has not seen any changes to process, procedures or policy that leads us to believe that the results of the BJC and or the BGCSE national examinations will be improved or better than the 2020 results,” Belinda Wilson said yesterday.
In March, Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd announced the country’s national exams will be held between April 13 through June 25.
He said as of March 12, there were 5,087 students registered for the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams while 9,382 candidates were registered for the Bahamas Junior Certificate tests.
There was some debate over last year’s results, which came during a school year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 results showed the number of BGCSE candidates that received at least a C grade in five or more subjects declined by 5.8 percent while the number of BJC students receiving a grade of C or higher in five or more subjects declined by 2.7 percent. However education officials maintained that the exams were successful considering the constraints students and educators were under last year.
The BUT release said a decrease in class time and student attendance are reasons why some students are not prepared for the exams.
“Based on information received from teachers thus (far) is that many students have not taken advantage of the face-to-face classes as some are still roaming the streets,” the release read.
“The fear of being infected by COVID-19 is still a reality and teachers and students are mentally and physically drained. Students are inadequately prepared to sit the BJC and BGCSE examinations at this time. Many students did not access online classes and now they are face-to-face two days out of the week, the class time has been cut down to 30/40 minutes. The students are simply not ready to sit the exams.
“The hybrid model does not lend to quality teaching as some schools have seven periods per day with additional subjects being taught each day but less class time. “Hence, the time allocated for face-to-face teaching is insufficient for BJC and BGCSE preparation. Very concerning is that students’ attendance is low; this is unsatisfactory. Some teachers have only seen their students for little over two hours in the entire Easter term.”
The issue of exam coursework was also highlighted.
“. . .Every teacher exclaimed that the deadline for the coursework submission does not allow sufficient time for the coursework to be completed, the content for the coursework in various subjects were not covered because of disruptions and the short time frame for preparation.
“Some of the subjects that require coursework are social studies, art and design, family and consumer science. Sadly, it seems as though the results of the national examinations for 2021 will be as dismal or even worse than 2020 results,” the BUT said.
The union called upon the Ministry/Department of Education to conduct a full assessment of the online, face-to-face instruction, students’ attendance and content covered in an effort to draft policy and make decisions that “are congruent with the reality in the educational system”.