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Caribbean Studies Essay

T he Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) is designed to provide certification of the academic, vocational and technical achievement of students in the Caribbean who, having completed a minimum of five years of secondary education, wish to further their studies. The examinations address the skills and knowledge acquired by students under a flexible and articulated system where subjects are organised in 1-Unit or 2-Unit courses with each Unit containing three Modules. Subjects examined under CAPE may be studied concurrently or singly.

The Caribbean Examinations Council offers three types of certification. The first is the award of a certificate showing each CAPE Unit completed. The second is the CAPE Diploma, awarded to candidates who have satisfactorily completed at least six Units including Caribbean Studies. The third is the CXC Associate Degree, awarded for the satisfactory completion of a prescribed cluster of seven CAPE Units including Caribbean Studies and Communication Studies. For the CAPE Diploma and the CXC Associate Degree, candidates must complete the cluster of required Units within a maximum period of five years.

Recognised educational institutions presenting candidates for the CXC Associate Degree in one of the nine categories must, on registering these candidates at the start of the qualifying year, have them confirm, in the required form, the Associate Degree they wish to be awarded. Candidates will not be awarded any possible alternatives for which they did not apply.

For the purpose of this syllabus, the Caribbean region is defined in terms of its geography, common historical experiences, cultural identities, participation in the global community, intermixing of diverse ethnic and racial groups, and its continuing struggle for survival and sovereignty. The region comprises mainland territories including Belize, Suriname, Guyana; and island states; such as the Lesser and Greater Antilles; the Bahamas, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago and the Netherland Antilles. It also includes Caribbean diasporic communities.

This interdisciplinary subject provides students with the opportunity to study issues relevant to the distinctive physical, political and socio-economic challenges facing the small states which comprise the region. Such study integrates perspectives from various disciplines including, Cultural Studies and Ethics, Economics, Government and Politics, History, International relations, Physical and Human Ecology, and Sociology, as tools for understanding Caribbean society and culture. Students who successfully complete a course in Caribbean Studies will have developed an appreciation for the challenges and potential of being Caribbean citizens.

They will have an understanding of their own roles and responsibilities in preserving and contributing to their Caribbean heritage. They will have attained attributes of the Ideal Caribbean Person who “is aware of the importance of living in harmony with the environment” and “has a strong appreciation of family and kinship values, community cohesion, and moral issues including responsibility for and accountability to self and community.”

Students will also have acquired skills of enquiry as defined in the UNESCO Pillars of Learning that will enable them to succeed in their academic careers and the world of work, and that will foster the exploration and development of their Caribbean identities. Finally, they will recognise these identities as continually evolving out of the interactions taking place among the cultures of the Caribbean region and the diaspora, and between the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

While the Modules are presented within this Syllabus in a linear manner, it must be emphasised that any Module may be studied first, and aspects of Modules may be studied concurrently, constrained only by the capacity of educational institutions and by students’ needs and interests. For example, Module, 1 and 3 can be taught simultaneously. In this way students can begin early preparation of the School-Based Assessment assignments.

Students should be advised that while Module 3 is presented last, preparation for the module themes which are derived from Modules 1 and 2 may begin earlier in the study of the Unit. For instance, the development of competence in identified research skills may begin as early as Module 1; for example, students may conduct interviews to acquire information about specified content areas within that Module. The problem chosen for study may also be determined earlier in the Unit. Finally, readings from the first two Modules should provide an introduction to literature pertinent to the study. Students are therefore urged from the start of the study of this Unit, to keep a record of readings and authors they find helpful.

CXC A1/U1/12


Module 1 introduces students to the role played by geography in shaping the society and culture of the Caribbean Region and its diaspora as well as the historical evolution of Caribbean society. It also explores the cultural characteristics of the Caribbean people, the evolution of the Caribbean diaspora and the ways in which Caribbean society and culture influence and are influenced by societies and cultures outside the region.

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