Forty-three wards of the state were applauded for their commendable performances in at least four of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examinations (CSEC) subjects for the 2020/2021 academic year.
They were recognised during the 10th annual hosting of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Educational Achievement Awards Ceremony. It was held virtually and at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston on Friday (January 28).
The wards spanned the four CPFSA regions, with students from the South-East Region, which includes the parishes St. Thomas, Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine, achieving 15 CSEC and two CAPE passes collectively.
The wards in the Southern Region which includes Clarendon, Manchester and St. Elizabeth, achieved 11 CSEC and two CAPE subject passes collectively.
The Western Region which comprises Trelawny, St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, had overall passes of six CSEC and one CAPE.
The fourth CPFSA region, the North-East with the parishes Portland, St. Mary and St. Ann, recorded six overall CSEC passes.
Kristal Smith from St. James and O’Shane Smith from Kingston emerged top performers in CSEC while Chaneil Walker from Trelawny attained the top position in CAPE. They were each awarded the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Top Boy and Top Girl trophies.
All the awardees were presented with plaques, gift baskets, laptops and investment accounts sponsored by Sagicor Bank.
Meanwhile, in congratulating the students, Minister of Education and Youth the Hon. Fayval Williams, said the CPFSA team also played a crucial role to support the students, especially throughout the pandemic.
“I must also commend the team for working with these students, for enabling them to do well in their exams. The time, effort and personal funds invested in their education will certainly help them in their quest to pursue further training and to find gainful employment, especially after leaving their current arrangement as wards of the state,” she stated.
Minister Williams said that there was a decline in the number of students who sat their secondary exams. This is attributed to students deferring until this year, because of the global pandemic.
“This fell from 242 students in 2020, to 177 in 2021. Of this total number, 149 students sat CSEC and CAPE. Other students who got fewer than four subjects would still have performed creditably in specific subjects and we encourage you not to give up,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the CPFSA, Mrs. Rosalee Gage-Grey said, “the past two years have been difficult for our children due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have had to adjust and readjust as they manoeuvre the new normal and schooling.
“For some, online learning was challenging, coupled with issues of devices and inconsistent internet service. Many of our children struggled. These are the number of issues we believe contributed to the decrease in the number of students who sat the exams [last] year, which fell from 242 to 177 in 2021. Recognising this, the agency will be implementing additional support for our children to mitigate any learning loss,” she stated.
Additionally, Mrs. Gage-Grey said that the agency spends more than $40 million to cover the cost of tuition, educational grants and school supplies for children at the early childhood and tertiary levels annually.
“We also thank the Ministry of Education and Youth for offsetting the expenses for our children who are sitting CSEC and CAPE exams,” she noted.
She said the Ministry’s One Laptop Per Child initiative has helped to “bridge the educational gap” by providing the resources for students in state care.
“The Transformation Implementation Unit of the Ministry of Finance through the Inter-American Development Bank-funded Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Expansion project, has also been instrumental in assisting the agency in the modernising of our ICT, which has bolstered our capacity to improve services to our clients,” she said.
“Under this project from 2019, we have received 100 computers to set up resource centres in 25 of our residential childcare facilities and 92 tablets for children who have performed well in CSEC exams,” she further stated.
The Agency, in keeping with the Ministry of Education and Youth’s thrust to provide quality education for all children, has been committed to ensuring that children in state care reach their highest potential through access to education.