Cabinet approves $75m for CXC over date change

Cabinet has approved payment of $75m to the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) for the switch in dates for exams to facilitate the May 11 general elections.

After announcing general elections, the former PPP/C government then arranged with CXC for the changing of some of the dates.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon yesterday disclosed that CXC granted Guyana a US$20, 000 reduction in the $79m fee to be paid for the shifting of several CAPE and CSEC examinations in May.

Harmon disclosed to the media during a post-cabinet press briefing that Cabinet has since given approval for US$365, 000 to be paid over to the Council.

According to Harmon this was one of the issues which Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine briefed Cabinet members on during the meeting on Tuesday.

He said that the cost incurred as a result of having to shift exams due to the holding of general and regional elections was in the vicinity of US$385,000 but when the current administration took office they sought a reduction in the amount. “They actually agreed to do so and took off US$20, 000”, he said adding that there is a commitment by government to pay the money and as such Cabinet has granted its approval for the payment of that sum to CXC.

The exams slated on May 11 (elections day) and May 12 had to be shifted to dates in June. Schools here are generally used as polling stations and as such it would have been impossible to accommodate students on elections day.

Meanwhile, Harmon said that government will soon review the president’s scholarship programme in the wake of the many issues awardees would have encountered since it began in 2012 under the previous administration.

Harmon noted that the programme provides for full scholarships to the two best performers at CAPE and CSEC.

He said that Cabinet was told that there was a monetary value attached to these scholarships but in the awards for the period 2012 to 2014, there were “issues in relations to the universities chosen by those scholarship awardees”.

He said in 2012 only two of the awardees took up the scholarship; in 2013 three did while the fourth is now requesting his award from the Ministry of Education and in 2014 no one took up their awards.

Speaking specifically about 2014, he said the awardees were being offered scholarships tenable in Cuba, China and Guyana only. “This offer was not accepted by their parents”, he said adding that one of the top CAPE awardees has sought the Education Minister’s intervention on this matter.

The student being referred to is Elisa Hamilton, a former Queen’s College student who was the country’s 2014 CSEC performer. In 2012, at the Education Ministry’s National Award Ceremony for Outstanding Performances, President Donald Ramotar had announced that the top two performers at the CSEC and CAPE examinations would be given automatic scholarships to study in any field of their choice in Guyana or abroad.

However, Hamilton was disappointed to later learn that she could not gain a scholarship at an institution of her choice.

Harmon told reporters yesterday that “Cabinet took the position that because of its emphasis on young people and the fact that a commitment was given to these scholarship awardees it would honour the obligation to these scholarship awardees up to the year 2015. Thereafter, Cabinet has mandated the Minister of Education to examine the programme carefully and to come up with firm recommendations”.

On this same issue, he said, Cabinet has given guidance that in looking at the conditions for the award of scholarships that the minister and ministry also consider scholarships for people at the University of Guyana. “So the scholarships will no longer just be for students pursuing studies abroad but also deserving students in Guyana who can pursue their scholarships at the University of Guyana”, he said.

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