– pandemic, lengthy elections process hampered education

-school reopening with strict protocols under consideration

As Guyana continues to grapple with the adverse effects of the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand has been engaging education stakeholders to find solutions for challenges that may arise in the sector.

At a virtual press conference held today, Minister Manickchand said she has had discussions with officials from the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to determine a way forward for students.

“I had the privilege to speak to the Registrar of CXC and a team, on Zoom of course, and we are very concerned that our students could possibly be disadvantaged because we had a very extended elections period which did nothing for us, particularly our students and then we had COVID. And there are Caribbean countries against whom we are competing [which] are recording zero cases. So, we may have to have special arrangements in place for children,” Minister Manickchand said.

While it may still be too early to solidify decisions, the Minister said, CXC is not opposed to facilitating some of the measures the Education Ministry may implement.

“We don’t have firm answers on it, but we would make sure that whatever we do allows both for our children to acquire the skills that they need and that CXC thought they needed in this period, as well as, be fair to them in how they can deliver those assessments,” Minister Manickchand said.”

Moreover, the Minister said that reopening schools for face to face learning is inevitable and students in Grades 10-11 may be the first to return to classroom tuition, while adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols.

“We believe that going back to school is inevitable, it is going to happen and when it happens, we want to make sure that our children are safe. There has been discussions and we are considering allowing our fourth and fifth form students back into the schools,” the Minister said.

With regard to the School Based Assessments (SBA) some teachers have also indicated to the Ministry that classroom interaction will be necessary for subject areas with practical components.

“Teachers are saying for a large part that theory can be done now, as we are out of schools, but many require a presence in the schools and face to face presence because of the various experiments and the practical nature of the work that has to be done. That is one of the discussions we had with CXC – how we can make sure our students are not disadvantaged and so we’re presently examining some of that,” Minister Manickchand said.”

The Minister also assured that any decision made going forward, especially with regard to classroom tuition, will be done through consultation with all of the relevant education stakeholders.