NGSA students excited to return to classrooms
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Kathlyn Simpson
Kathlyn Simpson

— had “good” first day of examinations

AUGUST 4, 2021 marked the first sitting of the 2021 National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) which saw scores of pupils return to the classroom to sit the examinations after a hectic year of balancing learning with battling the COVID-19 virus.

While the consensus among the pupils is that the English Language and Science examinations, which were written on Wednesday, posed no threat due to their preparations, they are adamant that face-to-face learning is much more effective, thus, it is their preference.

The Guyana Chronicle visited a few primary schools around the City of Georgetown, where the publication interacted with pupils, who sat the examinations, and their parents and was able observe, first hand, the mechanisms in place to facilitate the examinations and protect against the COVID-19 virus.

Leon Simon

In addition to the “care package” distributed by the Ministry of Education which contained sanitiser and face masks, students were mandated to wash their hands before entering examination buildings and every examination room maintained the recommended six-feet social distancing. One school even had a “quarantine room” in the event someone displayed symptoms of the virus.

Exiting the examination room, Akeelah Stoll, age 11, a pupil of Comenius Primary School, 49 Anira Street, Queenstown, and aspiring Queen’s College student, told the Guyana Chronicle that she encountered some difficulty with the science papers, “but the rest was simple”.

Shameka Paliford

Reminiscing on her experience with online classes, she highlighted that while online classes did not affect her performance due to her preparations, it was “kinda difficult” as “children would have some problem and teachers would have problem with their Internet” – the reason why she resorted to seeking her teacher’s help, who accommodated her at her home.

Her colleague, also an aspiring Queen’s College student, Leon Simon, age 12, said the examination was “difficult in some ways but in most ways easy” but he is confident that he did “good”; however, he bemoaned the online classes as well.

PREFERS IN-PERSON CLASSES

“I did go to online classes but because of the teachers and their Internet and the other children with their problems, I had to switch to lessons,” he said, highlighting that he prefers in-person classes because “online classes you have difficulty understanding,” and he hopes for face-to-face classes as he enters secondary education.

Akeelah Stoll

Shameka Paliford, a grade six teacher at the Comenius Primary School, explained that after recognising the difficulties online classes posed to both students and teachers, her colleagues and herself implemented mechanisms from early on to ensure students’ performances were not affected. With parents’ permission, she volunteered her home to facilitate the classes.

She told the Guyana Chronicle that in addition to the measures in place to protect against the COVID-19 virus, students had no difficulty adhering to the guidelines on Wednesday because they were prepared for the environment beforehand through having to visit the school for various tasks, and the mock exams also assisted.

As a teacher, she is of the opinion that face-to-face contact is needed for at least the upper levels of the school; she is anticipating the re-opening of schools in September, noting that “even if it’s a shift system, I would embrace it.”

Sherod Johnson, a student of the F.E Pollard Primary School, Lot 1 David Street, Kitty, said the exam was “great”. He said that his teachers prepared him by taking him into the classroom nearing the exam because they were not able to manage the students of the class properly through the online mechanism; he also prefers in-person learning.

Jasmine Callier and her father Richard Callier

His mother, Sharon Jacobs, explained that while the online classes were good, “really and truly, online classes can never beat face-to-face, it’s a difficult thing.”

She disclosed that she prefers the classroom and is hopeful that schools will resort to in-person learning in September.

She is also of the opinion that online classes have the ability to affect students’ performance in their exam, an opinion she formed through her observations.

Jasmine Callier, age 11, of the St. Gabriel’s Primary School, Crown Street, Queenstown, Georgetown, told the Guyana Chronicle that as an aspiring medical doctor, she enjoys the subject of science which “tells about the body’s systems” – one of the exams she wrote on Wednesday.

STUDIED A LOT

“I studied a lot,” Callier said, as she pronounced on how she prepared for her examinations. In the end, all was “good”, the aspiring Queen’s College Student said. Her father, Richard Callier, is also confident in his child as she prepared “fairly well”.

Pronouncing on the mixed learning approach which involved both online and in-person classes at her teaching institution, Callier explained that while the online classes are “good”, the mechanism sometimes posed an impediment to her learning objectives as her Internet would usually spontaneously disconnect.

While Jasmine prefers face-to-face learning, as well as her father, he told this publication that given the current situation in relation to the rate at which the COVID-19 virus is going, for the safety of the children it is best to “make the best” of the online learning mechanisms.

Kathlyn Simpson, 12 years old, another student of the St. Gabriel’s Primary School, told this publication that she is confident in her performance as she performed her “best” and found both papers to be “good”.

The examinations, she said were “simple”.

She disclosed that as part of her study routine, as the time got closer for her to sit the NGSA examinations, she started to wake up at 03:00hrs every morning to start her study preparations. Her parents also played an instrumental role in preparing her, she said.

The aspiring chemist, who is hopeful for a placement at the St. Roses High School or the St. Joseph High School, explained that while classes were conducted online, pupils returned to the classroom for face-to-face learning to aid with their examination preparations.

She highlighted that online classes posed some difficulty for her and she thoroughly prefers in-person learning.

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