Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson yesterday expressed certainty that national examination results for students sitting Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) tests and student turnout will be worse than they have been in previous years.
With national examinations set to begin in one week, Wilson said the adjustments made during the COVID-19 pandemic will not provide favorable test-taking conditions for students to perform at their best in the examination room.
“Teachers who volunteered have been revising with students for the past two weeks and they (teachers) were paid,” she said.
“So, that is a level of refresher.
“However, I am certain the results are going to be worse than they were before and I am also of the view that the number of candidates sitting the examinations will possibly be less.”
In 2019, the BGCSE results were the worst they had been in four years and the number of students who received at least a grade of C or higher in math, English and science was lower than the previous year.
Wilson has repeatedly called for the cancelation of the national exams or a postponement to the fall.
Those exams are set to begin Monday, July 13 and will follow social distancing protocols in accordance with guidelines set by the Ministry of Health.
“I’m quite aware that 90-plus degree weather during July and August with students sitting with masks in hot rooms, that is going to impact not only their oxygen level but even their thinking,” Wilson said.
“I’m concerned that they will not be taking the examinations in the best environment. I’m still of the view that it would have been better to do the exams in October and November, which so many other countries are doing.”
Last month as he outlined the reasons why the Ministry of Education chose to go ahead with the exams, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd also noted that some students need BGCSE results to make up for BJC results needed to graduate, while others may need the credentials to be competitive in the job market.
With several teachers having stepped up to invigilate the exam and mark papers, Wilson said she is concerned that the educators won’t be given adequate time to rest before the start of the new school year.
“The examinations will run until August 15,” she said.
“School then opens for teachers on August 24. Teachers being burned out or having enough time to relax or rejuvenate, that is also going to have an impact on the teachers’ performance going into the new school year.”
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 Ministry of Education officials during a virtual press conference last month.
Students who choose not to sit the exams would be considered as “absent”.