The Amerindian People Association (APA) says students in the hinterland are not prepared to write the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) exams.
The APA in a statement noted that students in the hinterland have been at a disadvantage from those on the coastland and while the Government in recent years tried to bridge the gap, the Coronavirus pandemic has exposed more inequalities and digital divide in the educational system.
“We urge that students from indigenous and hinterland students be afforded constructive redress and not be made to face situations for which they are not prepared. We urge that the Ministry consider an extended timeframe that allows for students to get back into the school and other learning system to be able to cope with the various exams facing them,” the APA stated.
The Government on Wednesday gazetted the order governing the administration of the NGSA, CAPE and CSEC exams.
The order signed by Education Minister Nicolette Henry provides for schools to be opened between June 8 and August 15 to allow for the sitting of the examinations scheduled for July-August.
All public schools were closed on March 16 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The APA stated that with the three months since the closure of schools, hinterland students were not provided with the same e-learning opportunity as those on the coastland.
“Sometime after the closure, the Ministry of Education announced that E-learning would be facilitated and that workbooks for Grades 2, 4 and 6 (children writing those exams) would be provided to schools, but children in grades 1, 3, and 5 were not provided for, as well as children in the secondary level.”
“For hinterland students and the delivery of education, the impact has been even more severe.”
Further, the Ministry stated that the lessons will be broadcasted via radio stations and the Guyana Learning Channel.
However, the APA said some communities do not have radio stations, electricity and even with these services many families are still at a disadvantage.
“Where there may be radio stations, not every family has a radio or listening device to tune in,” the APA said.
The APA further explained that even with the establishment of ICT hubs and e-government internet, the internet is not reliable and in instances where private internet service is available, it is often expensive to utilize for prolonged periods.
“This means that across the board, many students have had to stop whatever form of classes they have been accustomed to attending and therefore have been without teaching and learning sessions for about more than two months,” the APA said.
The APA reiterated that the situation is very concerning for the hinterland students who are already challenged by the many disparities in accessing quality education that exist between hinterland students and those who reside on the coastland.