OVER 85 per cent of the Grade Six pupils who are preparing for this year’s National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), on Wednesday, turned out to participate in the Ministry of Education’s mock exams. The exams, which conclude today, is part of the ministry’s efforts to get 12,672 pupils ready to sit the national assessment on August 4 and 5. The ministry is hoping to have another set of mock exams sometime in July. Schools were closed in March 2020, after Guyana recorded its first COVID-19 case. The situation for the pupils have been exacerbated by the recent flooding which has severely affected many parts of the country. Due to the extenuating circumstances, pupils were given the option of writing the exams at school, online or at home. Several pupils had their exams shifted to Friday, while others will be writing theirs on Monday.
Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, during visits to Graham’s Hall Primary School, North Georgetown Primary School and Stella Maris Primary School, said she was pleased with what she saw.
“What we’re doing is trying to observe and make sure that the process is going smoothly. This is the first time that primary school pupils are coming back to school after 13 months of being out of school. I am extremely pleased by what I see. Our rules and planning made the process very, very smooth. The pupils are properly distanced, they’re all wearing masks and sanitisers and appropriate pencils, rulers, erasers and so on. Parents are very supportive. I’m really overall very pleased,” the minister noted during her walkabout on Wednesday morning.
According to preliminary statistics provided by the Ministry of Education (MoE) at a virtual press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Regions 7, 8 and 10 had the lowest turnout rate of the 11 school districts. These regions are also the ones worst affected by the current flooding situation.
Additionally, the current lockdown of several Region Nine villages due to COVID-19 concerns, have also affected pupils’ ability to participate in the mock exams.
Notwithstanding the many challenging circumstances, Minister Manickchand, during the press conference, noted that she is very proud that the MoE spared no expense in doing its best to provide for the pupils. “We can safely say this is the year we have done more than for any cohort of [NGSA] students. All pupils, public and private, were given care packages. We created the NGSA booster programmes for all of our students, and we had the ‘Quiz Me’ platform. We consolidated the curriculum to remove from the curriculum the things we didn’t think were absolutely necessary so a whole host of things were done,” she added.
Though the turnout number was high, the minister noted that anything less than 100 per cent is unsatisfactory and, in this regard, the ministry plans to embark on a campaign to begin locating pupils and assessing the reasons behind their absence.