The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) is to be congratulated for its progressive introduction of five new subjects to be taught at the level of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
All five subjects will be available for study by CAPE students from September with the first examination scheduled for 2015. In the context of todayís Caribbean reality, the five new CAPE subjects have special resonance. They are Agricultural Science, Entrepreneurship, Performing Arts, Physical Education and Sport and Tourism. These five new subjects follow last Septemberís introduction of Digital Media and brings to 30 the number of subjects now available at CAPE level.
In introducing the new CAPE subjects, CXC has gone one step further by linking the formal launch of each subject to the Caricom country best recognised in that field. Thus, last Friday, CAPE Tourism was launched in Barbados; on Monday Agricultural Science was launched in Guyana; tomorrow CAPE Entrepreneurship will be launched in Trinidad and Tobago at the headquarters of the T&T Chamber of Industry; on Friday, CAPE Performing Arts will be launched in St Lucia, and on Tuesday Physical Education and Sport will be launched in Kingston, Jamaica.
Trinidad and Tobago can take some pride in being assigned the launch of CAPE Entrepreneurship. The Barbados-based CXC clearly recognises the efforts being made by this country through such agencies as National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (Niherst), the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Labour and Micro-enterprises and the Centre for Enterprise Development among others to promote a culture of innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship. Though we remain a long way from our goal of climbing higher on the Global Competitive Index, the message has been coming through via such programmes as i2i, IBIS for Small and Medium Enterprises and the Prime Ministerís Awards for Scientific Ingenuity.
CXC Registrar Dr Jules Didacus and his team are to be congratulated for their progress in producing a curriculum that is more relevant to the regionís need for graduates who are better aligned to the regionís development needs and more equipped for creating jobs for themselves.
CXC has come a long way from the early days in the 1970s when it had to fight a public attitude that was firmly on the side of UK-based exams offered by Cambridge and London Universities. Over a career of 42 years, it has earned public respect through the credibility of its curriculum and widely-recognised certification.
Even CXC, however, would readily admit that there remains much work to be done to achieve the transformation of the regionís education system that is needed for making it more responsive to the Caribbeanís development needs.
For now, however, let us celebrate this milestone which will give todayís A-Level students a wider, more exciting menu of subjects from which to select in preparing themselves for their chosen career paths.
In doing so, we hope that the relevant infrastructure and supports are in place so that the new, expanded curriculum will proceed without a hitch when the school year begins in September.