“We are not going to sit back, throw up our hands and give up” – Education Minister to parents

…consults more than 2000 parents on NGSA 2021

More than 2000 parents of students scheduled to write the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) this year were given an opportunity to express their views and concerns regarding the sitting of this examination.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand speaking with parents

This consultation was done in two virtual meetings, the Ministry said on Friday. The first meeting was held with parents of Regions One (Barima-Waini); Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); Four (Demerara-Mahaica); Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Georgetown. They were all invited to attend a Zoom meeting with education officers. The second meeting engaged parents in Regions Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); Eight (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
During the meetings, Education Minister Priya Manickchand briefed parents on some of the options being considered and those that have been suggested following consultation with Grade Six teachers and primary head Teachers.
Some of the options presented by the Minister included having students write the full examination on content right up to Grade Six or the full examination but on content up to Grade five. The meeting also examined the option of not having children write Papers One and Two or have them write both papers but with reduced questions. It was also recommended that students can complete projects as a means of assessment.

Chief Education Officer Dr Marcel Hutson along with parents during the meeting

Minister Manickchand told the parents that their contributions during these meetings would be noted and considered when making decisions, adding that at this time, the Ministry cannot offer any certain dates or positions.
“What I can promise you is that we are not going to sit back and throw up our hands and give up. That’s not an option for us. We don’t have the option of taking the easy route. We have the responsibility of making a decision in the best interest of the children of this country,” Manickchand remarked as she assured parents that the Ministry will work in the best interest of their children.
She said that upon assuming office in August 2020, the Ministry was very concerned that there was no structured plan to engage students. While acknowledging some lingering challenges, Manickchand pointed out that from then to now, many different things have been done to try and engage students.
She said that there are many people that do not have access to the internet, radio or television and there are parents that have difficulty using the worksheets with their children. According to the Minister, none of these options or a combination of them can replace the value of a trained teacher standing in front of students in a classroom.
The Education Minister said that as soon as a decision is made, the nation will be duly informed in a manner that places everyone on an equal playing field.

Prepared to act
The Chief Education Officer, Dr Marcel Hutson told parents that although no concrete decision has been made, the Ministry must be prepared to act when the time comes. He said that the Ministry will be moving forward with three main watchwords – safety, equity and quality.
Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Education Officer (Examinations), Ameer Ali advised the parents that if a decision is made to reopen schools, the Ministry will evaluate where children are in terms of content covered.
He said that from this evaluation, guidelines will be developed to make sure all schools can prepare students for the examinations. The Education Ministry will be meeting with the Guyana Teachers’ Union next week to discuss the format the National Grade Six Assessment will take when it is written this year.