Thousands of students across the country on Wednesday turned out to write the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), the annual exam that marks the end of a student’s primary school education and the beginning of their secondary educational journey.
Education Minister Priya Manickchand visited Peter’s Hall Primary School to offer words of encouragement to the students writing this year’s exam.
“Get in there, put your heads down, read the questions carefully, take your best answer and I promise you whichever school you get, you will shine like a star,” Manickchand said to the students.
The minister added that the students are “already winners” once they continue to receive support both at home and at school.
“Across Guyana, I want to say good luck to all of our students. You are ready for this assessment. We have done everything we can possibly, humanly do to make you ready,” Manickchand said.
She explained that the Education Ministry has made several efforts to aid the pupils in best preparing for this annual assessment including giving each student textbooks and materials such as pencils, rulers, sharpeners and erasers, and even offering students breakfast before the day of exams–a first for the country.
“We have placed all of our material online so everything is public. All our past papers are there for anyone to print. All our topics for Grade Six are done in videos and placed on the Learning Channel and YouTube,” Manickchand said.
The education minister also expressed that the Ministry has demonstrated versatility in adjusting the exam to accommodate for the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic placed on students.
“We’ve brought the curriculum down because we know about COVID-19 and the loss that [the students] had so we’re not testing to a Grade Six level; we’re testing to a Grade Five level. These children are going to be able to manage this exam,” Manickchand said.
She also disclosed that the Ministry is working to ensure that education is delivered at a high quality in each high school, adding that several new high schools are being built across the country to provide secondary school education to those who priorly did not have access.
“Guyana is really moving and we’re making sure that we’re not just moving with high rise buildings, hotels and roads but that we’re developing our people, our children so that they can actively participate in this driving country that we’re building out,” Manickchand said.
Guyana Times spoke with several students who shared their thoughts on the first day of assessments which focused on Science and English Language.
“It was somewhat easy and somewhat difficult,” said Tomaisha Alliyah Payna of West Ruimveldt Primary School, adding that she found the picture studies of the language exams the most challenging.
Studying extensively for the past two weeks, Payna hopes to join either The Bishops’ High School, Tutorial High School, St John’s College or Richard Ishmael Secondary School.
The sixth-grade student also expressed her desire to eventually become a teacher. “It sounds fun [and I want to] help teach other children,” Payna said.
Similarly, Kayden Featherstone of St Pius Primary School also hopes to become a teacher one day to “share his knowledge.”
Featherstone, however, who described the first day’s exams as “very simple,” aspires to attend one of the country’s top high schools.
An aspiring engineer, Akil Scott of St Pius Primary School shared that the exam was “very good” with only a few areas within the Papers Two that he is unsure of.
He added that he hopes to attend Brickdam Secondary School. Some 16,268 students across the country are writing the exam at 517 centres. The results will be released on July 17.