The Ministry of Education during the course of this week, engaged parents and teachers in each Administrative Region regarding the 2021 regional examinations.

The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has published dates for the writing of the 2021 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

This development necessitated the Ministry to engage teachers and parents on the preparation of CSEC and CAPE students to write those examinations next year.

These consultations began on Monday October 26, 2020 and today the Ministry wrapped-up its engagements by meeting parents from Regions One, Eight, nine and Ten virtually.

The Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson informed parents today that many students have not had any engagement since March 2020 when schools closed.

He said that Ministry needed to develop a plan and has therefore crafted a National Strategic Plan to address this phased 20201102 2

He said the Ministry of Education is concerned about the future of its students and must provide the opportunity for them to enhance their education and move forward.

The CEO noted that many students wish to apply to universities locally and abroad, and with these tertiary institutions remaining open across the globe, Guyana’s schools cannot remain closed as it will be a disservice to students.

He said the plan to reopen schools for the examination level students was not hatched out of the air but is based on research done by UNICEF, UNESCO and from experiences by other countries.

Internationally, several countries have reopened schools. Germany and France announced on Wednesday that their schools will remain open while taking the necessary precautions.

Ireland too had decided that schools will remain open despite restrictions being placed on other sectors.

Regionally, Jamaica has begun a phased reopening, starting with 17 institutions in nine parishes.

All of these institutions are functioning under the same guidelines that our students here will have to follow. These include the wearing of masks, social distancing, the frequent washing of hands, daily temperature checks and ensuring learning is done in properly ventilated classrooms.

Already, work is being done and, in most cases, completed at schools across Guyana to ensure they are ready to welcome the examination students back into the classroom under the safest conditions.

The need to return to school is justified by several factors, such as most of the children weren’t properly engaged since March either due to lack of devices or poor connectivity.

Due to these challenges, many schools in Guyana have already begun face-to-face teaching in an effort to engage their children effectively.

Additionally, many of the School Based Assessments (SBAs) and Internal Assessments (IA) require practical activities that can only be done in the school setting.

Therefore, to complete the syllabi and these assessments, the best option for children to prepare for the examinations is to return to school.

In addition to the safety measures mentioned above, the Honourable Minister of Education Priya Manickchand has informed parents and teachers during the course of this week that all teachers, students and cleaners returning to school will be provided with care packages containing masks, hand sanitisers, face shields and other items to ensure they remain safe before, during and after school.

Minister Manickchand has also said parents need to stress the importance of wearing masks with their children. She said based on the information available regarding COVID-19, persons have a lesser chance of contracting the virus if they wear a mask correctly while observing the other measures such as hand washing, sanitising and social distancing.

She has informed teachers that there will be no “one size fits all” approach to how a school functions in preparing students. The Minister said schools will be given the liberty to create an efficient timetable to prepare its students. Schools that have difficulty doing this will be supported by the Ministry to get it done.

The date for the reopening of schools has not been announced but this will be done soon so that students can return to the classroom and begin working to prepare to write their examinations next year.

During this week, the Ministry engaged over 5000 parents and teachers regarding these examinations and the reopening of schools. This was done because the Ministry is cognisant that it cannot move forward without knowing the needs and concerns of the relevant stakeholders.