3 students tie for country’s NGSA top spot

By Rupa Seenaraine

It was an extraordinary moment for Guyana on Friday, when three primary students tied for the top spot at this year’s National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) after securing 518 marks.
Neuel Bancroft of Annadale Primary, Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); Angelica Subryan of Cumberland Primary, Region Six, (East Berbice-Corentyne); and Jonathon Gomes of Josel Educational Institute in Georgetown are the country’s top students, and were all awarded a spot at the prestigious Queen’s College.
The results were announced by Education Minister Priya Manickchand at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre. After the announcement, Guyana Times caught up with some students as they celebrated this achievement.
Stories of defying odds, burning the midnight oil and making sacrifices were reminisced on by the students, as their parents also shared what it took to have a stable support system.
Bancroft expressed his astonishment at his grade, noting that his nervousness vanished after hearing of his performance. An aspiring pilot, he shared that with studies should also come leisure activities to have a proper balance.

Dedicated and disciplined
“I never thought that I would have been placed so high in the NGSA exams. I had a strict study ritual. I had to stay up very late at night studying for the exam. I used to read the consolidated curriculum every night so I could have an advantage of the rest of students,” the country’s top student detailed.
On the other hand, Gomes was expecting to cop the top spot at the examination.
“It wasn’t hard or anything…I don’t have anything I want to do when I grow up. I have ideas but they are not concrete ones,” he relayed.
His mother Stacy Monah-Gomes added, “From his early grade levels, he was self-motivated. The preparation was easy for him. We discussed what percentage or grade he needed to attain to be able to have a top school…He is a very disciplined child. During the period, he would play, but then he knows he has work to do. It was just books, books, books.”
The third topper, Subryan said it was a “hard challenge” with lots of studying. She is planning to pursue a career in the medical field.
Her father, Jermaine, commented, “Angelica has worked very hard. She was a dedicated student. We would have expected her to have a good performance but not as good as this. We’re very excited. It was well done.”

Coming in fourth position were three students: Elliana Ganpat of Mae’s Under 12 Primary; Sierra Prescod of Westfield Prep; and Jaysea Manram of Graham’s Hall Primary School. They scored 517 marks.
A confident Manram, who wants to become a marine biologist, positioned, “I was expecting to get Queen’s College but not do this well. I kept a balance between studying and sports because exercise helps to improve memory. I studied for two hours each day.”
For students who are not satisfied with their performance, his message was, “Even though you did not get in the Top 10, or you did not get Queen’s College, it doesn’t matter which school you go to. It matters about how hard you work.”

Elijah Ram of Graham’s Hall Primary; Adalyn Bernard of New Guyana School; Arya Mohamed of Success Elementary; Tanika Sukhdeo of Academy of Excellence; and Ziyaad Ally of Aurora Primary came seventh with 516 marks, respectively.
Ram shared that he was “over the moon and elated”, as he further gushed, “I never expected that I would be in the Top 10 here…My mom, my dad and I used to stay up late in the nights and wake up early in the morning to catch a little more study as well.”
Meanwhile, Mohamed wants to be a politician since she believes it is a pathway she would excel in.
“I worked really hard for this position and being here today is a dream come through because sleepless nights and all the efforts I put in; it was a well-deserved moment. I expected to do this well and I am extremely grateful.”
Ally, who hails from Pomona Housing Scheme on the Essequibo Coast, wants to become a lawyer. He follows in the footsteps of his brother, who was once the region’s top performer.
Sharing the twelfth position were Jaliyah Holder of the New Guyana School; Jaren Boucher of Genesis Early Childhood; Sarah Baharally of Suddie Primary; Parnita Kishun of Dharmic Rama Krishna; and Kaiyah Ramkissoon of the New Guyana School with 515 marks each.
Kishun, who wants to become a doctor while dabbling in her budding business ideas, shared, “Leading up the exams, I had to stay up really late and sacrifice a lot of my free time. I also had to wake up early to push in a lot of study. My advice is to put down the phone, pick up your books and prioritise your studies. Don’t give up. At times there would be challenges but once you try your best and you stay focused, everything is possible.”
This year, the cut-off mark is 508 for Queen’s College, 504 for The Bishops’ High School, 501 for Saint Stanislaus College, 498 for Saint Roses High School and 495 for Saint Joseph High School.

Collective impact
Chief Education Officer, Dr Marcel Hutson shared in his remarks that no single entity has the systems to individually move education forward. What is required, he said, is the coming together of minds and resources for collective impact.
Because of the COVID pandemic, he shared that decisions had to be made swiftly. Today, Guyana is benefitting from these moves in the sector which curbed learning loss and declining instructional time.
The Ministry is seeking to create an environment to see true transformation of the education sector. Access, inclusivity and quality coupled with accountability from all stakeholders is the approach in mind.
“We have seen interventions, in terms of textbooks, worksheets and different strategies were used to get our children to this point without losing them,” Hutson pointed out.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand underscored that while children are aiming for Queen’s College as the mark of excellence, the reality is that the exams are just a placement mechanism until a new system is adopted.
“These exams came about as placement exams. They were never meant to be a determining factor of who is bright and who is not, who is a bright child and who is not. We need to place children into secondary schools and until we have a new system, and we’re looking at that, we can only place according to the number of schools. Queen’s College, the reality has, we can only place 150 students there.”
She added, “There are children who will get their results and feel disappointed. I’m here to tell you that children with 94 per cent today will get a List A school. Ninety-four per cent is high in any language, any country and in any career.”