By Vishani Ragobeer
Preliminary data from the Ministry of Education shows that some 420 pupils were unable to sit the Grade Six mock exam Wednesday because they were either affected by flooding or COVID-19.
This information was presented by Assistant Chief Education Officer (Inspectorate), Mohammed Hussain, during a virtual press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
While emphasising that the figures were likely to change, since data was still being received from the regions, Hussain indicated that four pupils in Region Two (Pomeroon- Supenaam), 120 pupils in Region Three (Essequibo Islands- West Demerara), 63 pupils in Region Six (East Berbice- Corentyne) and 233 pupils in Region Seven (Cuyuni- Mazaruni) could not sit the first set of mock examinations on Wednesday because of the ongoing floods.
Apart from these pupils, another 2,493 pupils were absent for unknown reasons.
This first mock examination is a diagnostic examination that is meant to help teachers, parents and pupils determine what areas pupils will require extra attention in ahead of the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) on August 4 and 5. The NGSA is Guyana’s secondary school placement examination.
Importantly, this mock examination is being administered in a hybrid format; pupils can write the examinations in their classrooms or they are able to write it at home, once there is adequate parental supervision.
It was related that about 77 per cent (or 9,820 pupils) of the 12,672 pupils who should be writing the NGSA in August wrote the mock examination in school. Contrastingly, 359 pupils, or three per cent of the candidates, wrote it at home.
While speaking at the press conference, Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, emphasised that the number of absentees may differ as more data is collected and tabulated.
She said there may be a number of reasons why the pupils were absent from the examinations, including that they encountered transportations difficulties, financial challenges or that they had to take care of their siblings at home while their parents went to work.
She, however, lamented that if there is a possibility that children who are absent have dropped out from schools, the ministry will work aggressively to get those pupils back into schools.
“The next few days there will be a rigorous exercise by this ministry of education across the length and breadth of Guyana and we will find every single one of those students who did not turn up to participate either at home or in the classroom because we will not lose them, they will not become dropouts at this age,” she emphasised.
Meanwhile, as she told the News Room earlier on Wednesday, Minister Manickchand said that those pupils who have been affected by the nationwide flooding or by the COVID-19 pandemic will be given the opportunity to rewrite the mock examinations at a later date.