By Dr Didacus Jules, CXC Registrar
marks the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of the Caribbean Examinations
Council (CXC) and while the organization has been promoting the milestone, it
is a significant watershed that is insufficiently noted at all levels in the
|DR DIDACUS JULES|
anniversary is being celebrated under the theme “Celebrating the
Accomplishments; Continuing the Journey” and this speaks volumes to the vision
that continues to drive this sterling regional organization.
move to establish the Caribbean Examinations Council was a bold move in 1973
and a very strong assertion of the confidence of visionary leaders in our
capacity to take responsibility for our own destiny. They were not however blind to the
considerable challenges that this posed.
At the inauguration of CXC, the Right Honourable Errol Barrow spoke to
the challenges as well as the self-confidence of that defining moment: “I do
not think that anyone imagines that the task of the Caribbean Examinations
Council will be an easy one. This body
will have to develop and master skills acquired by the Overseas Examinations
Bodies after more than a century of trial and error. It will have to break down prejudices which
blindly accept the imported as superior to the local product… There is every
reason to believe that this new venture in education will also be successful.”
years later, there is no doubt that that the venture has been successful,
although, sadly there are those today who are still crippled by the prejudice
which believes that anything foreign is intrinsically better.
persistence of such views is only a reflection of insecurity and self-doubt
since the accomplishments of CXC over these past 40 years speak convincingly of
the power of the Caribbean to innovate and achieve.
the inception of the first examinations in 1979 to today, 6.2 million Caribbean
persons from 19 territories have written CXC exams. The Council now offers a comprehensive suite
of certification that spans from the primary exit to pre-university. An impressive array of subjects is now
offered at different levels in humanities, sciences and technical areas: 34
subjects are offered at CSEC, 46 Units at CAPE, and CVQs in 193 areas.
was the first regional or international board to introduce school based
assessment as a formal and integral element of its assessment. The Syllabuses developed for the CSEC and
CAPE subjects have set standards and harmonized secondary education across 19
territories of the region including some of the Dutch-speaking Caribbean.
scale of operations has grown in complexity.
In 1979 the first CSEC exam was offered to 30,276 candidates in five
subjects. In 2011, the Council offered
99 exams in CCSLC, CSEC and CAPE to 227,755 candidates from 17 countries. Almost 6,000 Caribbean teachers assisted in
the marking of these exams.
will do well to be guided by the assertion of the longest serving Prime
Minister of Jamaica Right Honourable PJ Patterson that “The challenges which we
face oblige us, not just out of a question of sentiment, but of shared
necessity, to pool our collective strengths and combine all our resources in
the development of the Caribbean to which we belong.”
the shadows of uncertainty lengthen in the global economy and the contractions hit
closer home, it should be clear to us that no Caribbean territory – no matter
how big, how rich, how smart, how cohesive or how special we may delude
ourselves to be – can weather this storm alone.
Eric Williams warned prophetically at the departure of Jamaica from the
Federation that “one from 10 leaves 0”.
capacity to weather the unrelenting tide of globalization with its threats as
well as its opportunities requires that we learn a new arithmetic of
integration – that 1 plus 1 equals not 2 but 11.
could and should be the trajectory for CXC’s continuation of the journey? CXC
is intent on providing increasingly wider and more varied opportunities for the
Caribbean learner through all phases of the educational quest – from primary to
is intent on going global with its certification and its innovations starting
with the Caribbean Diaspora and other Commonwealth countries. Notesmaster (www.notesmaster.com) is an
interactive portal developed by Caribbean citizens in the Diaspora that
facilitates interactive learning centred on CXC syllabuses and is the vehicle
for virtual teacher development groups.
need to recognize that education is now a major service sector in the global
economy and that the preservation of the hegemony of the traditional providers
is not as much about standards as it is about trade. British examination boards brought in 198
million pounds into the British economy in 2004 from foreign candidates sitting
their exams worldwide.
is almost impossible to predict what the next 10 years will bring for the
Caribbean and even more unpredictably what the next 40 will yield. But one thing is indisputable – what lies in
store for the next 40 will fundamentally depend on the state and shape of the
human resources of the region.
industries will fail, many new opportunities will open up, but whether we sink
or we swim will depend on the strength of character, the entrepreneurial and
creative capacity, the resilience of will and the currency of skills of the
long as the political leadership of the Caribbean does not betray the vision of
integration for the illusion of individual survival, the Caribbean Examinations
Council is well placed to assure the global human resource competitiveness and
the regenerative capability of this emerald chain.
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