NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd yesterday defended the government’s decision to hold last year’s national examinations, indicating that the “entire examination exercise was a success”.
The ministry has advised that student performance in the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) national exams improved in 15 of 27 subjects, notwithstanding a drop-off in students opting to sit certain subjects and the overall impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“It was worth the financial, emotional, mental physical and psychological cost,” Lloyd said during a Ministry of Education press conference.
“It was a remarkable accomplishment that has clearly disappointed a fair number of naysayers.
“The task was what it has always been — to ensure that, upon completion of the examiner training, candidate sitting and the marking and grading of the numerous examinations, those who had opted to take them would receive valid and reliable results.”
There were improved scores in Auto Mechanics, Biology, Bookkeeping and Accounts, Chemistry, Clothing Construction, Combined Science, Commerce, Economics, Electrical Installation, Food and Nutrition, Graphical Communication, History, Music, Office Procedures and Spanish.
English Language and Literature remained unchanged compared to last year.
A total of 255 candidates received at least a grade “C” or better in Mathematics, English Language and a science subject, according to the ministry, which noted that 484 candidates achieved this last year.
The ministry pointed out that a “large number” of candidates may not sit these subjects in the same year.
With the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC), 10,753 candidates were registered to sit examinations.
In 2020, 62.28 percent of the candidature achieved grades A to D, compared to 65.54 percent in 2019, 66.76 percent in 2018, 63.80 percent in 2017 and 64.30 percent in 2016.
Scores in six subjects improved this year, according to the ministry.
Lloyd insisted that Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) would not have accredited the BGCSE national examinations if they had had any misgivings that any part of the protocols had been compromised.
He noted that CIE officials stated that despite the challenges, “the assessments were administered in an appropriate manner and are in keeping with international standards”.
Lloyd further shot down criticisms over the sitting of the exams, given the challenges of the pandemic.
“I would be the first to admit that The Bahamas’ system is not perfect and has its share of challenges,” he said.
“No one can identify any perfect education system.
“What they can find in education systems where students consistently perform well are these common denominators: the balance of political will, a bipartisan shared vision for education, a high level of school leadership, the support of key stakeholders, excellent teachers and students and parents who appreciate and support the importance of education.”