CXC to introduce Theatre Arts, Physical Education exams By Abigail Butler
Guyana Chronicle
March 2, 2002

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NEXT year, secondary school students in the region will be able to acquire a Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), referred to here as CXC, in Theatre Arts and in 2005, Physical Education, Registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Dr. Lucy Steward reported this week.

Steward, who is in the country to listen to and address concerns about CXC examinations, noted that many students enter secondary school with a great deal of talent in drama, dance, music and so on. She said CXC had no examination or syllabus that would allow them to develop and strengthen their skills in these areas.

CXC recently introduced a CSEC examination in music, which allows students the opportunity not only to perform but to listen to a piece of music, do criticisms, among other things.

The first examination in Theatre Arts will be written next year - the syllabus focusing on areas like dance, theatre and stage craft.

Steward said that in Physical Education (PE), the Ministers responsible for Sport, through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, had mandated CXC to develop a syllabus and examination in this subject.

She said CXC is collecting information from PE teachers and experts in the region about the content for the syllabus. A draft syllabus will be prepared following this exercise and will go out for review and comment across the region. It will then be revised and schools will be able to enter students to sit this examination.

Steward said that given its developmental phase, the draft syllabus is expected to be completed by next year for the examination to be written by 2005.

Since her arrival here, she has met students, teachers and education officials to share information on CXC developments and to collect information about issues and concerns to be addressed by the Examinations Council.

Giving an update on the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), which was introduced by CXC in 1998, Steward said CXC is encouraged by the response it is getting from students in Guyana for the exams.

CXC has also been organising training workshops and orientation sessions for teachers so their introduction of CAPE will be easier. They are given assistance in understanding the thinking that went into the development of the syllabuses and how the candidates will be assessed, among other matters.

She said one of the concerns CXC is addressing is the availability of research material. She said they understand that there may not be one textbook that would cover all the areas in a particular subject area.

CXC will be embarking on developing some self-study material for students, she said, and it has since received assistance from the Commonwealth of Learning in this regard.

But the material will take some time to write and CXC will therefore start with six areas mainly the core subjects - Caribbean Studies, Communication Studies, Functional French, Functional Spanish, Information Technology and Statistical Analysis. The draft material will be available some time next year for use in the schools, she said.

It will be beneficial for students to use in schools and for those who have not finished school but want to continue studies in particular CAPE subjects. They would, however, have to be used under the guidance of a tutor.

Asked about the response to the examination, Steward said it has been very encouraging but it is a new examination and many countries are in a state of transition. Some schools are still doing the GCE 'A' levels, while others do both GCE and CAPE.

"In Guyana the participation in CAPE is very encouraging", she said. CXC also held several orientation workshops here for teachers to assist them in teaching CAPE subjects.

"We are in a state of transition and it is a case now of informing parents, students and teachers about what CAPE is all about and to encourage the students to take CAPE. As in any new product, there is always a fear of change and concerns about standards and so on...", she stated.

Superintendent of Examination, Ms. Juliet Persico added that more students are writing CAPE subjects than the GCE 'A' level subjects.

She noted that it is cheaper to write CAPE, which may be a contributory factor to more persons sitting that exam. She noted, however, that the CAPE programme is very good.

Steward said that though the exam is cheaper, it is not substandard. Sixteen governments in the region are also supporting it.

She added that since students from the region study all across the world, CXC tries to ensure that whatever certification students get will be accepted internationally, and its standards are already well known and accepted worldwide. The region's universities, including the University of the West Indies, accept CAPE, she said.

According to Steward, the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) in the United Kingdom, which is the body that advises universities in the UK on international qualifications, has agreed that two units of CAPE will be considered equivalent to one 'A' level subject.

She added that in the United States and Canada, however, most institutions will accept students with CSEC only and discussions are under way concerning advance standing. She pointed out that if students can get into the institutions with CSEC or remain in school two years more and acquire six units of CAPE, then they should be granted advance standing.

Steward said CXC will, however, have to negotiate with the institutions individually because it has found no mechanism to discuss the matter across the board.

She added that in principle, there is an agreement that candidates can apply on credit having done CAPE.