UNICEF is supporting Vincentian students displaced by the eruption of La Soufriere as they prepare for regional exams
UNICEF is supporting Vincentian students displaced by the eruption of La Soufriere as they prepare for regional examinations.
The Ministry of Education, with UNICEF’s financial assistance, is providing 3,000 Form 5 and Grade 6 students with breakfast and lunch as well as materials including scientific calculators, geometry sets, and stationery to help them get ready for the upcoming Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA). These exams are administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).
Kalifa Henry is scheduled to complete nine CSEC examinations.
The COVID-19 pandemic kept the 16-year-old Petit Bordel Secondary School student out of the classroom for the first five months of the year. She, like thousands of others on the island, had to switch to online learning in January following a spike in positive cases. Her situation was further exacerbated by the volcanic eruption on 9 April 2021.
Following the eruption, Kalifa, along with her grandmother and three cousins, fled to a relative’s house just outside the country’s capital, Kingstown. She recalls a stressful experience.
“I had mixed emotions because I was happy I was being evacuated from the danger zone but my mind was on my mom because I did not want to leave her. I was panicking, wondering if my mother was okay.”
After the alert level for the volcano was lowered from red to orange in early May, the Ministry of Education advised external examination students to report to learning hubs from 25 May 2021. The announcement came as a surprise to parents and educators, as many students were displaced from home, without school supplies.
The ministry, in collaboration with UNICEF, stepped in to assist. Kalifa says the help is timely. “Things are rough on everybody right now, so knowing that I do not have to get money for lunch and breakfast, it is a very good thing and I am grateful for that.”
A stressful time
While the support has lessened the teen’s worries, Kalifa says the mental and emotional strain caused by the eruption and the evacuation has made it difficult to concentrate on the examinations.
“I have to try and manage my time. I am trying my best to do everything at once, like focus on school, home and the volcano and also other family problems at home. It is a lot for me to handle. I am trying to cope with it.”
The start date of CXC examinations has been delayed by two weeks and they are set to begin on 28 June 2021.