Pandemic or not, top performers say they put in the work

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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The results of this year’s National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) were announced on Friday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Georgetown, and while many of the top performers did not expect to actually make the ‘Top 10’ they indicated that the pandemic did not dissuade them from putting in the hard work.

Take young Nirvana Wimal, for example. She says that she had many “sleepless nights” after finishing her homework and studying after a long day at school. And, she spent much of her weekends attending extra lessons.

And, the quiet girl, who is seemingly camera-shy, emerged as the top performer at this year’s National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) – scoring 524 marks out of a total of 527.

Nirvana Wimal (Photo: Vishani Ragobeer)

Like many of her peers, the closure of schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online learning was a challenge for her – not because it meant that she could no longer go on school trips to monuments – but because there are many more distractions studying at home.

Still, evidently, she persevered and much to her surprise emerged on top.

Paris Timmerman, the second-best performing pupil who attended the Chateau Margot primary school, also spent long hours studying but she noted that she capitalised on the resources introduced to bolster learning during the pandemic.

Paris Timmerman (Photo: Vishani Ragobeer)

These resources included the expanded Guyana Learning Channel, the Quiz Me educational platform and the ‘NGSA Booster’ which was a suite of videos to help children.

“They all played a very instrumental role in my studying,” Timmerman, an aspiring accountant, stated.

Similarly, fourth-place pupil Jada Persaud related, “…I used the resources that were given by the ministry- all the study packages and the books and I sent them to my dad and he printed them and I worked on them.”

Last year, when the new academic year started in September, a decision was made to provide all of the necessary learning material (including 17 textbooks and other worksheets) to children in every community.

Additionally, the Guyana Learning Channel – which streams solely educational content – was expanded and made accessible in numerous hinterland communities.

Chelsea Persaud (Photo: Vishani Ragobeer)

This meant that those children who had difficulties accessing online classrooms still had some material to use to prepare for the ‘high stakes’ examination that determines what secondary school they are placed into.

Chelsea Persaud and Joshua McArthur, who were both fifth-place pupils from the Dharmic Rama Krishna primary school in Georgetown and the Vryheid’s Lust Primary school on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) respectively, also highlighted that much of their preparation for the NGSA was aided by the learning material. But, these pupils also noted that they had teachers who were constantly pushing them to do better, too.

Joshua McArthur (Photo: Vishani Ragobeer)

Importantly, McArthur highlighted that he always expected to be a top-performer because he shelved many of the extra-curricular activities he was involved in so that he could focus on studying for the NGSA.

Similarly, another fifth-place performer, Mae’s Under 12 pupil Aditi Joshi expected to perform well because she divided her time among making copious notes, revision of the content she learnt, attending extra lessons and watching videos online.

“This continued for quite a few months until the first mock exam when I decided I’m just gonna summarise the curriculum that I am going to do… I did the same thing for the second mock exam and then that’s how it went for the NGSA,” Joshi said.

At this year’s NGSA, Nirvana Wimal of Success Elementary topped with a score of 524 marks.

Aditi Joshi (Photo: Vishani Ragobeer)

The second position was shared by Parris Timmerman of Chateau Margot Primary and Deja Datt of New Guyana School with 523 marks each, while Jada Persaud of Success Elementary secured the fourth position with 522 marks.

Then, six candidates shared the fifth position with 521 marks each. They are Aditi Joshi of Mae’s Under 12, Joshua Mc Arthur of Vryheid’s Lust Primary, Shabaka Yisrael and J’Kell Whyte of Success Elementary, Khevin Sandy of Lowe’s Academy and Chelsea Persaud of Dharmic Rama Krishana.

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