By Alisa Lashley
IN wake of Guyana’s first recorded novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case in March, schools were abruptly closed in an effort to protect the nation’s educators and learners. This situation was particularly difficult for pupils who were preparing for the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA).
Pupils were able to adjust to the “new normal”, becoming conversant with online classes and lessons to prepare themselves for the upcoming examination.
Despite the challenges, a few of this year’s top performers disclosed that the pandemic was not a hindrance for them and so they were able to focus on their studies.
Syesha Yahya, who attended the ISA Islamic School, was among the country’s top performers. She secured the 85th spot with 513 marks and was awarded a place at Queen’s College. Yahya described her achievement as a blessing which required hard work.
“I wasn’t able to go to school with my teachers and have face-to-face teaching sessions. The virtual teaching was helpful, but it was not the same. I had to practice and do lots of late night revision. It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but in the end it was all worth it,” she expressed.
She further related that every day leading up to her exam, she would make sure that reverence was given to the Almighty.
“My teachers helped me all the way through, they gave me hope and the courage to aim for the skies and most importantly, my family played a major role in my success, especially my mother. They were my biggest supporters and they never doubted me,” Yahya said.
With a knack for the written Arts, Yahya disclosed that in the near future, she intends to pursue a career in journalism since she enjoys writing stories. In advising the NGSA Class of 2020, she noted, “I would tell them to work hard and study. It takes a lot of dedication if you want to succeed and most importantly don’t pressure yourself.
I would recommend setting the bar high because the sky’s the limit and don’t be nervous just do your best.”
Shivram Samuel Persaud, another student who excelled at this year’s sitting of the exam, said he was able to rise above his challenges and succeed. Persaud, who attended the Eden Garden Primary gained a spot at the St. Stanislaus College with 505 marks. Not being a native to Guyana and English being his second language, he said it was challenging for him to understand and perceive certain expressions that were sometimes used by his teachers. While it was not easy, he managed and gave his best at the exams.
“The moment I heard results were out, I felt ecstatic. My adrenaline was pumping as though I was being chased by dogs. For a moment I felt so much excitement that I didn’t want to stop moving. I felt so proud of myself. The hard work I had put into studying had paid off and I was very happy to know that I gained a spot at one of my dream schools which is also my Dad’s former school,” he articulated. He is uncertain about his career choice.
However, it is fascinating to note that he is fluent in Spanish, Japanese, English, Italian and French.
In his final remarks, he noted that his success could not have been possible without the aid of his teachers, parents and sisters who he praised highly given the vital roles they played.
Aspiring pediatrician and former student of Green Acres Primary School, Caralee Hunte said she made sacrifices ahead of the exam. Hunte attained 510 which has secured her a place the Bishops’ High.
She disclosed to this publication, that she sacrificed her gadgets and leisure time as studying was a crucial part in preparing for the exams. “I was very anxious for the day of the exam to arrive, because due to the coronavirus the exam was postponed. And ever since quarantine began, I have been receiving school work via WhatsApp from my teacher Miss Revon Charles-Boyle which would then later be marked. This process continued on a daily basis.”
Hunte, further noted that her success could not have been possible without help from the Almighty, her teacher and her family. She expressed, “I want to thank my mom who would wake me up early in the morning to study and to prepare for school. My two brothers, who would assist me with my school work, and finally my church family who would always keep me in their prayers.”
She told this publication that she experienced uncontainable joy after hearing her results because it was her wish to attend the Bishops’ High School.