Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson yesterday expressed concern surrounding the operations at testing centers where the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams were being held.
Wilson claimed the number of invigilators were cut and some centers appeared to be unorganized.
The national examinations got started yesterday at various centers throughout the country.
“I’ve received calls from my members that invigilators are not in place, there’s no social distancing, examinations started late and some teachers are still awaiting the timetable and the schedule for when they will be invigilating,” Wilson said.
“But I am not surprised that the examinations are disorganized because I’m of the view, from the beginning, that they should have postponed them until October or November and the Ministry of Education did not have a well-thought-out plan up to a few days ago.”
According to the BUT president, some teachers who signed up to be invigilators were given the run-around up to yesterday, causing confusion.
“Some of the teachers that would have signed up to invigilate were informed that their services were not needed and the numbers were cut down 50 percent,” she said.
“Some showed up and did not know. But others were told on Thursday.”
According to MOE Permanent Secretary Lorraine Armbrister, the only issue reported to the ministry from day one of national exams was that of identification for students at one of the centers.
Armbrister said she was unaware of Wilson’s claims regarding invigilators saying “that was dealt with the other day”.
“The decision we made with invigilators was because of the higher than normal unemployment rate. We determined that we would use persons who are unemployed to make up 50 percent of the invigilators and the other 50 percent would be from the ranks of teachers from both the private and public sector,” Armbrister said.
“We paid for the invigilation services for both the private and public sectors because we know that the schools are having a difficult time now. So, we said to the schools you can select one teacher and we will assign one invigilator from the private sector – a person who is unemployed – and we will assign that person. So, we’re not aware of any difficulties, but certainly, this is the first day and if there are difficulties, we will work them out.”
The national examinations are expected to run through mid-August, just weeks before the start of the new school year.
The BUT president also shared concern over the number of students that showed up to sit the exams yesterday, once again forecasting low student attendance.
However, according to Armbrister, only the first papers for subjects like Art were given yesterday and the turnout is expected to get better by next week when subjects like English language begin.
Fees paid for students who choose to defer sitting the national exams until next year would be honored once the school is notified, according to Armbrister.
Students who choose not to sit the exams would be considered as “absent”.