Subjects staying

The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) had a change of heart and changed its plan to cut four of its subjects offered to students across the region.

The Council was contemplating this move due to low student enrolment, human resource challenges and outdated equipment.

However, after meeting with regional Ministers of Education, they were urged to reconsider the plan, find a solution to improve enrolment and keep the two Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects and two Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects.

Chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Wayne Wesley said this week during a media conference at CXC headquarters, Prince Road, Pine Plantation, St Michael, they would keep CAPE green engineering and electrical and electronic engineering technology, CSEC agricultural science (Double Award) and industrial technology – the mechanical engineering option.

“The meeting with the Ministers of Education demonstrated our shared commitment to find a ‘critical path forward’ on this matter, given the pressing education and human capacity development imperatives facing the region. The Ministers were forthright in their positions, pledging their support for CXC and for more direct lines of communication with the CXC.

Wesley shared their goals to increase marketing and demand for the subjects.

“CXC has rolled out a menu of new-generation technology and science syllabuses. Some are not yet at the desired demand. Governments will work with CXC in partnership, building demand for these new programmes to enable their cost viability.

 “Accordingly, today’s deliberations with the Ministers of Education reinforced the need for a collective regional marketing thrust to promote the priority subject areas in science-technology-engineering-art-mathematics education and climate-smart agriculture, which are considered critical for the economic growth and sustainable development of the region. CXC is committed to ensuring its communications protocols afford the Ministers of Education greater line of sight of high-level policy recommendations for decision-making,” Wesley said.

The 12 new generation subjects at the CAPE level are agricultural science, entrepreneurship, performing arts, physical education and sports, tourism, animation and game design, logistics and supply chainoperations, digital media, financial services, design, technology and biotechnology.

Last month, there were reports that CXC was considering the suspension of the four subjects after a correspondence between the regional body and Ministers of Education was leaked.

In response, Wesley said the correspondence was premature but acknowledged that it might have some stakeholders concerned.

This week Pro-Registrar and Deputy CEO at CXC, Dr Eduardo Ali, said outdated equipment, the lack of practical experience for students because of the inadequacy of labs and facilities and the lack of qualified teaching professionals to teach the broad syllabus were among the challenges that led them to contemplate the suspension.

“In some instances, the subjects were challenged because of the lack of human capital to provide support for areas such as welding, plumbing and electrical installation. The issue of physical resources such as textbooks and other learning resources was a challenge. The system did not provide for students in the system,” Ali said.

He also detailed the enrolment challenge: “CSEC has an industrial technology suite of which there are three options – electrical and electronic technology, building and fabrication technology and mechanical engineering technology.”

While electrical and electronic technology had about 4 500 registered and building and fabrication had about 4 200 across the region, he said the latter subject was challenged.

“For mechanical engineering technology across the region, the numbers are below 2 400. We have six territories that within the last five years have no students registered at all. Three territories had between one to five students registered annually. A further three territories only had registration uptake upwards of 50 students,” he said.

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