THE ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS from the 2022 May/June Caribbean Secondary Certificate (CSEC) examinations is continuing at all levels – in the Ministry of Education and schools; in homes and communities and in the media and public as a whole.
Those results, an overall pass rate of 66.55 per cent which represented a drop of nearly 17 per cent from the previous year, have not sounded alarm bells, but have certainly generated searching analysis. It is not that some fall-off from previous years was not expected but the size has surprised many; parents, teachers and education officials alike.
But really, should we have been surprised? This cohort faced a multiplicity of challenges between 2020 and 2022; the entire period during which they were being prepared. Given these circumstances, the overall performance was not as bad as a cursory examination may indicate.
Those students who sat the examinations did so in unprecedented circumstances – the disruptive effects of the Covid pandemic, followed by the volcanic eruptions, a double whammy for all involved. As a consequence the students had to contend with much uncertainty – class disruptions, shifts to online instruction and all kinds of related day-to-day challenges.
Importantly too, 2022 marked the return of Paper 2 (the long paper) which students did not write in 2020 and 2021. It did not help either that differences between the Government and some teachers over health regulations which had to be effected in response to the Covid threat, led to some disruptions in terms of instruction.
All these contributed to the pass rate drop, a rate of 66.55 per cent as compared with 83.48 per cent the year before. The preceding rates were 81.86 per cent in 2020 and 74.33 per cent in 2019.Yet a superficial comparison in the circumstances would be tantamount to comparing mangoes with limes.
What is needed is a painstaking analysis taking all the circumstances into consideration. It is no mean task, for what weight should be attributed to the various factors?
Then there are specific factors. Obviously students in the areas directly affected by the volcanic eruption must have been most affected; some schools would have been more affected than others by teacher changes and even unavailability because of the Covid regulations fallout; and there were many students uprooted from homes and having to study and prepare for exams in far from conducive surroundings.
All these indicate that we have to be careful about the conclusions drawn.Those charged with conducting such an exercise must draw heavily on expertise available, but it is also important to get the views of parents, students and teachers about their experience.
It can be an exercise with valuable lessons for a country like ours, prone to a repeat due to our vulnerability. Let us make the best use of it.
But in our anxiety to comment, please let us make space to first of all, commend the performances of our students in such trying circumstances; all of them with, naturally, kudos for those who excelled especially those from most affected areas. Let us make the best use of it.