… Consults with more than 2000 parents on NGSA 2021

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.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand talks to parents

This consultation was done in two virtual meetings, the Ministry said on Friday. The first meeting was held with Region One (Barima-Waini) parents; Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Three (Essequibo-West Demerara Islands); Four (Demerara-Mahaica); Pump (Mahaica-Berbice) and Georgetown. They were all invited to a Zoom meeting with education officers. The second meeting involved parents in Regions Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); Eight (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); Nine (Upper Takutu-Essequibo Upper) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
During the meetings, Education Minister Priya Manickchand briefed parents on some of the options being considered and suggested following consultation with Grade Six teachers and primary headteachers.
Some of the options presented by the Minister included 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.

Chief Education Officer Dr Marcel Hutson along with parents during the meeting

Minister Manickchand told parents that their contributions during these meetings would be noted and taken into account when making decisions, adding that the Ministry cannot currently offer any specific dates or posts.
“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, ”Manickchand noted as she assured parents that the Ministry will work in the best interests of their children.
He said that after taking office in August 2020, the Ministry was very concerned that there was no structured student engagement plan. In acknowledging some glorious challenges, Manickchand noted that many different things have been done from then 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.

Ready to take action
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.
Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Education (Examinations) Officer, Ameer Ali told parents that if a decision is made 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. The Ministry of Education will be meeting with the Guyana Teachers Union next week to discuss the format that the National Sixth Grade Assessment will take when it is written this year.

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