Many questions to be asked over exams
The Government lifted certain Covid-19 restrictions last Friday night. The change that stood out to me was stated in the Saturday Royal Gazette:“The relaxation will allow Bermuda College and public and private schools to reopen to let students and pupils sit exams.”
At some point a decision was made to not allow schools to have exams in person because there was to be no mixing of households. This was a health decision that was made because of the spike in cases in Bermuda. This decision caused external exams to be cancelled for large numbers of our local students. For many of these students, those exams would have been the culmination of years of work, studying and sacrifice.
The result of this restriction will have varied impact on different students. Students who were doing very well and had performed well before this decision will be fine going forward. It may not have impacted their school choices, scholarships and other opportunities. But what about the students who were working hard to make improvements so that they could produce better results, which would translate into more opportunities?
The lifting of the restrictions seems to have been made late for most students, with the assessment deadline already past and several of the international exams scheduled to start last Friday. There are questions that need to be answered in light of this late change having been made.
When was the decision made to not allow students to attend in-school exams?
Were all schools, public and private, part of the decision process? If so, was there pushback on the decision to not have in-school exams because of the significant impact it has had on students?
What caused the change last Friday, and has there been any feedback from the schools and students that were left out?
What schools and students will be able to take advantage of the lifting of the restriction? It is important that we make sure that we have not once again create a divide with some being negatively impacted while other students may have an opportunity now that the restrictions have been lifted.
We continue to proclaim the education of our children critical to the progress of our country. Did we do everything possible to give our students these opportunities to reach their academic goals? As we move forward it will be the accountability and transparency of our decisions that will help to build trust in our education system.
• Ben Smith is the Opposition Senate Leader and the Shadow Minister of Education