Uncertainty after completed CXC exams stolen

MONTEGO BAY, St James – Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) sittings went ahead at St James High School on Wednesday after thieves made off with a safe, but uncertainty looms over the fate of students whose completed test papers were among items in the vault.

Chairman of the school’s board Christopher McCurdy told the Jamaica Observer that CXC will determine how to proceed.

“This had zero effect on classes. Classes were on. Support from CXC was brought in, the regional body was notified and they assisted where they needed to. There was absolutely no impact on the students whatsoever,” he stated. “It was exam as usual and classes as usual.”

He said the school shielded students from trauma by handling the investigations and other issues stemming from the incident in the background as regular operations continued. In addition to CXC, the Ministry of Education and the police have been called in.

According to a statement from CXC’s eastern zone headquarters in Barbados, it was informed that fireproof cabinets containing examination papers for nine subjects scheduled to be administered this week were stolen from a school in Jamaica.

“This is of grave concern to CXC and the matter is being investigated by the Ministry of National Security and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). CXC is in constant contact with the Ministry of Education and Youth in Jamaica and an update was shared with the ministries of education from across the region at a meeting earlier today,” the statement said on Wednesday.

It went on: “CXC is determining the course of action and will communicate with the ministries of education.”

McCurdy verified the validity of the regional body’s statement on what occurred at the school. He was quick to point out, however, the theory that the exam papers were not the target of the break-in. Burglars, it appears, simply grabbed a vault with what they assumed were valuables. Minutes after observing the break-in, the school’s watchman called to notify the principal.

The watchman allegedly saw the burglars force their way into the school’s administrative block, which is not far from the security post but concealed by a retaining wall. The thieves reportedly shattered a glass door and kicked off others leading to the bursar’s office. The main gate to the compound was also damaged.

They abandoned a smaller safe after it fell from their hands but then made off with a larger vault. The smaller safe contained paperwork for the canteen and tuck shop, but the larger one had CXC-related paperwork.

McCurdy was thankful no one was hurt during the robbery. He stressed that the school employs a watchman, not a security guard, and he did his job by calling the police.

“I would not expect him to put up any challenge; we know the sort of environment which we are living in today,” explained McCurdy.

“We are happy that at least we are not having this conversation today with any loss of life. I think that whatever is missing is stuff that we can replace,” added the chairman.