Parents in last-minute revision with NGSA pupils
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Jeremiah Garnett doing some last-minute studies with his father, Desmond, ahead of the start of his NGSA examinations today
Jeremiah Garnett doing some last-minute studies with his father, Desmond, ahead of the start of his NGSA examinations today

…as national exams gets underway today

By Tamica Garnett

IN Belle West on the West Bank Demerara,
parents Shivanie and Desmond Garnett spent the day on Tuesday revising as best they could with their son, Jeremiah, who will be among the 14, 730 pupils writing the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) which gets underway today.

Hoping to be as prepared as possible, Jeremiah spent his final day of studying, reviewing past papers and other notes that he had made over the past few months. “I think I am prepared enough,” the 11-year- old said. The Belle West Primary School pupil is just happy to finally get the exams over with, given the long wait he and his peers endured after the exams were postponed earlier this year.

Jeremiah Garnett and his mom, Shivanie

“I feel excited that it’s going to finish soon, but also nervous about not knowing what is coming,” Jeremiah said. “I didn’t feel good when it was pushed back, but I’ve been going through the books and past papers.” Twelve-year-old Sarah Peters from St Angela’s Primary, in the city, said she has been affected by the school closures as a result of the COVID-19 situation, and does not feel that she is at her best. “I don’t feel that I’m as prepared, due to the fact that we’ve been home for a bit of time,” Peters said. The NGSA will see the children writing examinations in Mathematics, English, Science and Social Studies. It is their score in these examinations that will determine how they are placed at secondary school.

On Wednesday, the children will write English Papers 1 and 2 in the morning, and Science Papers 1 and 2 in the afternoon. The exams will conclude on Thursday, when they write Mathematics Papers 1 and 2 in the morning session, and Social Studies Papers 1 and 2 in the afternoon.

Jeremiah and Sarah both shared that Science is the subject that they foresee being their greatest challenge going in. Jeremiah believes that his best area will be English, while Sarah said she is most looking forward to the Mathematics.
“A lot of people don’t like Maths, but I really like it,” Sarah said. “I love the challenge that it gives me, but science gives me a challenge I don’t like,” she added.

The preparation for and writing of the NGSA is customarily an apprehensive time for Grade Sixers, but with the situation of schools being closed and the exams being postponed for two months, it was an added time of anxiety for both the eager parents and kids.

NGSA is customarily written in April, and was initially scheduled for April 8 and 9 of this year, however, Guyana recorded its first case of the COVID-19 on March 21, and schools closed indefinitely shortly after. Due to the closure of schools, parents found themselves having to step up to the plate and play an even bigger role than usual.

Twelve-year-old Ashley Ram hard at work with her mom, Melissa (Photos by Adrian Narine)

“I never believed in leaving everything up to the teacher, but for the couple of months they lose out on with not going to school, they weren’t able to push in a lot, because the teachers would know the curriculum and what they think the student should know for the exam. But what her teacher has been doing is giving them little, little quiz,” explained Denise Peters, Sarah’s mother.

Jeremiah’s mother, Shivanie, a schoolteacher herself, said that during the period at home, she created a timetable to ensure that Jeremiah continued to study, even after the schools closed, and in spite of the distractions and challenges at times.

“Sometimes he would have to be studying when his brothers are playing, or they may be watching something on TV, so he would feel bad about having to be left out of that,” Shivanie said.

“I feel good about it; I am not too 100% confident about it, because of the break in the school,” she added

Lamheimant Ram, of Albouystown, said that his daughter, Ashley, also struggled with staying focused during her time at home. “It was a challenge to keep her focused, and we were worried, not knowing if it would’ve been cancelled altogether until next year,” the young father said, adding: “Then when they announced the new exam dates, it was short notice, and to get her back in the groove was a little challenging.”

For the past two weeks, however, to help the situation, schools were reopened for the Grade Six children to have classroom sessions with their teachers, who were also assisted by teachers from the other grade levels. To fill in the gap, while the children were at home, many teachers worked with their charges remotely, by sending work over the Internet to the parents. However, Ram shared that for his daughter, there was an added challenge, due to difficulties with their Internet.

“Other kids had Online classes, but we didn’t, because only two weeks ago we finally got the Internet. We tried our best to prepare her as much as possible with extra home study,” Ram said.

He said that Ashley usually scores above 80 per cent during her end-of-term examinations throughout grade school, but had fallen behind a bit last year when there was a curriculum change. Ashley was particularly looking forward to this final school term before the exams to pick up back her grades.

Nonetheless, he is confident in his daughter’s ability to perform well, and notes that regardless of how it goes, he knows that Ashley will do her best. “Before, in December term, we were looking at either 85 to 90 per cent. Her teacher did say she could be in the 90s, but then with how we have to rush and teach stuff, my expectation is between 80 to 83 per cent; but I’m not fighting up,” Ram said.

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