Nothing sinister in new NGSA format – CEO claims

Chief Education Officer (CEO), of the Education Ministry Olato Sam said there is “nothing sinister” in the

Chief Education Officer Olato Sam
Chief Education Officer Olato Sam

Ministry’s move to change the format of the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examinations to include a requirement for the students to write their names on the examination paper.
Since publicly announcing the new requirement, the Ministry and Government have come in for censure from certain sections of the public. Opposition member and former Minister of Education Priya Manickchand have blasted government over “not being able to explain the value of such a move.”
Speaking with the media on Friday however, Sam restated that, “there is absolutely nothing sinister or secretive” about the process, and further, the officers of the Ministry of Education are professionals that “do not get themselves involved in sinister and secretive processes.”
The CEO explained that in changing the format, the Ministry consulted the premier assessment entity in the region, (which is the Caribbean Examinations Council). He also said the Ministry adopted the new format and measures because “they are more efficient and will be more effective in preserving the integrity of our assessment in Guyana and that is our primary concern.”
“It is not my place to get involved in any of the other things, but I can assure all of the public that our assessment process is going to be conducted with the standards and the expectations that are not just local, but are regional,” Sam stated.
“We have certainly ensured that all of the expectations that are actually enshrined in the assessment processes that have international standards are now being brought to bear on the local process,” he added.
According to Sam, the Ministry is currently crafting a broad-based response to public concerns raised over the new format for the examination. This is in addition to a press release that the Ministry would have already sent out outlining clearly, that the new requirements are administrative functions that will in no way affect the marking process of the examinations.
Manickchand had again lashed out at Government over the “real” changes made to the format of the NGSA, noting that it could lead to subjectivity.
The NGSA, expected to be written by more than 14,000 students across the country in a matter of two weeks, now requires students to inscribe their names on the examination paper along with their identification/registration numbers.
Manickchand suggested that the move to change the format and layout of the exam from the way it has been done for decades, could be an attempt at victimisation. But that is just a suggestion and the former Education Minister said she hopes Government through the Education Ministry could show reason for its sudden decision to ask students to now write their names on their examination papers.
Manickchand said this new development could cause much more trouble than in any way help, and her Party is still seeking to figure out in what way the change could help. She said the Ministry has not been forthcoming with information regarding this.
A number of parents, she noted, have contacted her with concerns over the changes. That had prompted her to make contact with officials at the Ministry, including Chief Education Officer Olato Sam and the officer responsible for primary education.
According to Manickchand, although she had a detailed response, she still could not fathom the reason for children’s names being written on their exam paper.
She said it is always hard to keep integrity of examinations intact. This new development, she said, will most definitely shake the integrity of the examination, which took “many years building up”.