— REDO reports region did very well, all things considered
ALL Saints Primary School is the top performing school in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) at the recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), with a pass rate of over 75 per cent.
This is according to Regional Education Officer (REDO) Region Six, Volika Jaikishun, in an overview of the region’s performance at the examination.
Said she, “Sixty-five pupils sat the exams, and of that, a total of 49 gained 50 per cent and over in English. Forty-two gained 50 per cent and over in Mathematics; 49 gained 50 per cent and over in Science; and 51 gained 50 per cent and over in Social Studies.”
All Saints was closely followed by Port Mourant Primary, then Rose Hall Primary, Cropper Primary, St. Therese’s Primary, Skeldon Primary, Corriverton Primary and Crabwood Creek Primary in that order of the top seven schools in Region Six that achieved 50 per cent or more overall passes.
The REDO explained to the Guyana Chronicle that of the 1669 pupils that sat the examinations in the region, 704 obtained a score 50 per cent and over in Mathematics; 813 obtained a score of 50 per cent and over in English; 714 scored 50 per cent and over in Science; and 724 gained 50 per cent and over in Social Studies. The figures for Mathematics and English, she said, represent a 31 per cent and 48.7 per cent increase in passes at those subjects, respectively.
And, unlike in other regions, where most of the top positions were dominated by private schools, for Region Six it was less than two per cent, which means that all the credit must go to the public education system.
The REDO was high in praise for the government’s intervention, especially in the area of mathematics, as in 2016, only 11 per cent of the children that sat the examination were successful, as opposed to 42.2 per cent in 2017.
“I would want to credit the intervention by the government for this,” the REDO said, adding: “After the government recognised the poor performance in Maths not only in Region Six, but across the country, Cabinet made a decision, where they released extra funds and we had an intervention in Mathematics where we had monitors at schools and training for teachers.
“We had fortnightly cluster meetings, extra training and work, so we were able to see this improvement.”
‘WE CAN DO BETTER’
However, despite the overall improvements, the REDO and her team are not letting go of the reins since, according to her, “We can do better.”
She explained that while the larger schools have done better, there is still considerable work to be done with some of the smaller schools. “In the smaller schools, we are seeing the need for improvement; it is not the type of results we would have liked,” she said.
“At Scapemoed Primary, which is located on the East Bank of Berbice, one student sat the exams but was not able to gain 50 per cent or over in any of the four subjects.
“I think that is poor; we have to work with the schools; we have to get the headteacher to come in, and we have to work with these low-performing schools.
“Additionally, at Sanvoort Primary, two pupils sat the exams, and one was able to gain 50 per cent and over in English A, while in Social Studies, no pupil gained 50 per cent and over in Mathematics and Science.
“This is a concern for all of us, whereas in the big schools, they have so much [sic] children… In light of this, we will have to do a one-and-one with headteachers.”
The REDO revealed that she has already tasked the headteachers to prepare action plans, given that the results have exposed the various weaknesses at the regional and individual school levels. She noted that she has a planned date set aside when the action plans will be discussed and fine-tuned, so that when the new school year begins, the plan can be implemented from the first day.
“They are going to come up with strategies to get on the bus to go forward,” she said, adding:
“We have asked them to prepare action plans, because now that they have the results, they were able to identify the weaknesses and various subject areas, and we have asked them to prepare action plans and together we are going to sit with them and discuss it.
“I know we have done well, but there is still room for improvement, so we are not going to take it as it is, we can do better.”
The REDO further stated that her teachers have done a good job, and deserve a pat on the back, but should not become complacent, since a lot more work remains to be done. To this end, she explained that she ensures her teachers are always kept up to speed, by way of continuous development programmes.
“In Region Six, we have a continuous development programme, where we are training our teachers,” she said. “We have a modularised programme our teachers would enroll for; this course, which is of 12 months duration, we have 25 teachers at a time once per month.
“The teachers are given a certificate of completion, and then we continue again.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has retained the services of a special needs officer in the region to ensure that students with special needs are given an equal opportunity to receive a formal education.
The REDO explained that this is in keeping with the government’s plan of ensuring every child has an equal opportunity to education.
“We have a special needs school in New Amsterdam, and we would lend support to the CBR in Port Mourant that deals with special needs learners.
“We also have a special needs classroom at Skeldon Primary, and we have one at Berbice Educational Institute.
“Not only persons with physical disabilities will be in that classroom, but once we recognise them from other schools, we put them in that classrooms and we are working to improve it.
“I know there is more that can be done, but we are working hard; our special needs learners are very dear to us.”
She continued that apart from the formal classroom setting, the students are also trained in signing.
“Our learners from the special needs schools in the secondary levels we would bring them over to the practical instructions centre where we train them in TVET, because our teacher there is trained in sign language .In fact, one of our special need learners from the New Amsterdam Special Needs School took part in the para Olympics in Brazil in 2016 (a runner). Right now we are preparing our special needs learners for an upcoming Signing B competition in September, competing with other special needs schools.”
In Region Six this year, three children with disabilities wrote the NGSA examinations and were successful. The three students, who were diagnosed with Autism, down syndrome and cerebral palsy and were from Albion Primary, Port Mourant Primary and Skeldon Primary respectively. The students were each provided with a special needs invigilator, who assisted them throughout the examinations.
The REDO also called on parents to play their roles in the education of their children, since she noted that while teachers would work with them, the parents need to follow up at home and ensure that the children study and do their homework. She further noted that parents need to be considerate, especially when the children are being prepared for examinations and if possible relieve them of some of their chores, so more focus could be placed on their education.
Jaikishun noted that while the overall performance of the region stood at 42 per cent, her goal for 2018 is to surpass the figure and is aiming for a minimum of 50 per cent and higher.