More than 2000 parents of students who were due to write the National Sixth Grade Assessment (NGSA) this year had the opportunity to express their views and concerns about the sitting of this examination.
This consultation took place in two virtual meetings. The first meeting began at 10:00h where parents from Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Georgetown were invited to attend a Zoom meeting with Education Officers. The second meeting began at 13:00h when parents of Regions 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 were engaged.
Education Minister Priya Manickchand briefed parents on some of the options being considered and suggested following yesterday’s consultation with Grade Six teachers and Primary Headteachers.
Some of those options presented by the Minister include having students write the full examination on content up to Grade Six or the full examination but on content up to Grade five. The meeting also explored the option of not having children write papers one and two or asking them to write both papers but with fewer questions. It was also recommended that students can complete projects as an assessment tool.
Minister Manickchand told parents that their contributions during these meetings will be noted and taken into account when making decisions. He noted that the Ministry cannot currently offer any specific dates or posts.
He further said that any announcement will be subject to the advice of the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and other health authorities. “What I can promise you is that we’re not going to sit back and throw our hands and give up. That is not an option for us. We do not have the option of taking the easy route. We have a responsibility to make a decision in the best interests of the children of this country. ”
Minister Manickchand reassured parents that the Ministry of Education will work in the best interests of their children.
The Education Minister, after taking office in August 2020, said that the Ministry was very concerned that there was no structured plan for student engagement. Acknowledging some sweeping challenges, Minister Manickchand said many different things have been done from now to now to try to engage students.
He said many people do not have access to the internet, radio or TV and there are parents who find it difficult to use the worksheets with their children. According to the Minister, none of these options or a combination of them can replace the value of a trained teacher standing in front of students in a classroom.
The Education Minister said that as soon as a decision is made, the nation will be properly informed in a way that puts everyone on an equal playing field.
Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson told parents that although no firm decision has been made, the Ministry must be ready to act when the time comes. He said the Ministry will move forward with three main words, safety, fairness and quality.
He reiterated that the Ministry of Education will be working closely with the Ministry of Health as it may be concerned with the possible reopening of schools. As it related to equity, Dr. Hutson said that the exam will not be set in such a way that students are disadvantaged. He noted that while there are options to change the structure of the assessment, whatever option the Ministry chooses will not result in a substandard examination for examination.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Chief Education (Examinations) Officer, Mr Ameer Ali, informed the parents that if a decision is taken to reopen schools, the Ministry will evaluate where children are in terms of content covered.
He said that from this evaluation, guidelines will be developed to ensure that all schools can prepare students for the examinations. He pledged the Ministry’s support to students, teachers and parents to ensure that all students can prepare to write the exams. The Ministry of Defense will be meeting with the Guyana Teachers Union next week to discuss the format that the National Sixth Assessment will take when it is written this year. (Removed and modified from the Ministry of Education)