Minister with responsibility for Education Karl Samuda is refuting claims student groups were not included in discussions surrounding the scheduling of CXC exams.
The National Secondary Students' Council (NSSC) on Monday expressed concern it was not consulted in relation to a decision to bring forward the exams to July 13, instead of the previously announced July 27.
However, speaking in the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Samuda said student groups, including the NSSC were included in discussions on the CXC schedule from as early as April.
He said a representative of the NSSC at an April 17 meeting opposed delaying the exams until September.
"I have consulted the minutes of that meeting and the National Secondary Students' Council Public Relations Officer is on record in the meeting, noting that a delay in the exams would hold back students. She argued that such a decision would adversely affect students' chances of getting into university overseas for the 2020/2021 school year," he recalled.
Mr. Samuda said the position of the NSSC helped in changing the Ministry of Education's stance on delaying the exams.
"She brought in her comments additional insight and a new perspective to discussions with the stakeholders, which had until then centred on predictive grades or delaying the exams until September or January, and we appreciate and supported her recommendations and took those into consideration in our further discussions with CXC," he said.
Preparation for reopening
In the meantime, Mr. Samuda said preparation and inspection of schools for the return of CXC students to physical classes will be completed this week.
He said schools are being cleaned and sanitised and furniture is being rearranged to ensure the physical distance of 6ft between each student. "For the average classroom of 24x24, this means there will be only 10 students and a teacher that can be accommodated in the existing facilities," he noted.
CXC students are set to resume classes on Monday.
However, Mr. Samuda said students will underlying illnesses or conditions which do not allow them to wear face masks are to continue their preparation for CXCs at home.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Opposition has said the conflicting information from Mr. Samuda regarding whether CXC exams would be held this year has left students confused and stressed.
"It would really have been so much better if when two months ago the Opposition recommended a task force under the auspices of the National Council on Education to help deal with these planning issues, because I'm not saying it's easy and it requires the input from the widest cross section. And the minister keeps saying that he has consulted. He thinks calling somebody and running something by them is consultation. That doesn't count because he's saying he consulted and all the other groups are saying no we were not consulted," Opposition Spokesman on Education Peter Bunting contended.