More than 2000 parents of students scheduled to write the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) this year were given an opportunity to express their views and concerns regarding the sitting of this examination.
This consultation was done 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.
Minister of Education Priya Manickchand briefed the parents on some of the options being considered and those that have been 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 right up to Grade Six or the full examination but on content up to Grade five. The meeting also examined the option of not having children write papers one and two or have them write both papers but with reduced questions. It was also recommended that students can complete projects as a means of assessment.
Minister Manickchand told the parents that their contributions during these meetings will be noted and considered when making decisions. She noted that at this time the Ministry cannot offer any certain dates or positions.
She further advised that any announcement will be subject to the advice of the Ministry of Health, World Health Organisation and other health authorities. “What I can promise you is that we are not going to sit back and throw up our hands and give up. That’s not an option for us. We don’t have the option of taking the easy route. We have the responsibility of making a decision in the best interest of the children of this country.”
Minister Manickchand remarked as she assured parents that the Ministry of Education will work in the best interest of their children.
The Education Minister said that upon assuming office in August 2020, the Ministry was very concerned that there was no structured plan to engage students. While acknowledging some lingering challenges, Minister Manickchand said that from then to now, many different things have been done to try and engage students.
She said that there are many people that do not have access to the internet, radio or television and there are parents that have difficulty using 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 duly informed in a manner that places everyone on an equal playing field.
The Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson told parents that although no concrete decision has been made, the Ministry must be prepared to act when the time comes. He said that the Ministry will be moving forward with three main watchwords, safety, equity and quality.
He reiterated that the Ministry of Education will be working closely with the Ministry of Health as it relates to a possible reopening of schools. As it relates to equity, Dr. Hutson said that the examination 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 the sake of having an examination.
Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Education Officer (Examinations), Mr. Ameer Ali, advised the 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 make sure all schools can prepare students for the examinations. He committed the Ministry’s support to students, teachers and parents to ensure all students can prepare to write the examinations. The MoE will be meeting with the Guyana Teachers Union next week to discuss the format the National Grade Six Assessment will take when it is written this year. (Extracted and modified from the Ministry of Education)