By Andrew Carmichael
There is no doubt that the students that sat the recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) had it exceptionally hard. They were away from a classroom setting for over a year because of the mandates to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
They had to innovate ways to grasp what was being taught via the online platforms because it is common knowledge that even the best internet service is not reliable enough for online learning. The country’s information communications technology (ICT) infrastructure has a long way to go before Guyana is fully able to host uninterrupted online classes.
The Grade Six students, throughout the country, had to battle unreliable power supply and in some cases a complete lack of electricity but yet they did their best. The students of the Mahaica-Berbice Region of Guyana have shown that despite the challenges they can excel.
There are three schools that dominated the top places in the 2021 National Grade Six Assessment in Region Five with an aspiring playwright/producer from Rosignol Primary leading the pack. Sapodilla School of Excellence has three students in the top six while Mortice Primary and Bath Primary has two, each, in the top ten of the Region.
Many of these students in the top ten in the region, along with those who did not make the top spots, were faced with challenging situations. From battling financial setbacks owing to COVID and in some cases the threat of contracting COVID, the students never let up.
They masked up and went on to sit their exams.
Tiana Hughes of Number 4 Village, West Coast Berbice, a student of Rosignol Primary School is the top student with 511 marks and a place the Queen’s College in Georgetown. She said that her accomplishment is satisfying but she had a lot of challenges while preparing for the exams.
She noted that studying for the exams during the pandemic was the major difficulty she experienced along with the poor internet connections which made it difficult to stay connected to online classes. However, she made up for this by going directly to her teacher and asking questions.
Fortunately for Hughes, her class teacher is also her mother.
“She would help me when I did not understand things,” she said.
Unlike many other children, Hughes said she did not miss face-to-face learning and being in the classroom while preparing for NGSA.
“Studying at home was much more quiet and peaceful than being in the classroom,” the young student said.
She advised others who will be preparing for exams to have a balance between their social life and studies. Hughes said that she created that balance in her life and believes the relaxation time really assisted in her remaining unstressed and with a clearer mind to focus on the task at hand.
Meanwhile, Mia Jameer of Bath Primary copped the second spot with 509 marks and a place at The Bishops’ High. Her biggest challenge was that of the unreliability of the internet connection during online classes.
“Most of the time we could not hear anything our teacher was talking about,” she related.
Jaden Todd of Sapodilla School of Excellence and Raam David of Mortice Primary were tied for third with 506 marks and a place at The Bishops’ High.She advised that those who want to be successful at their exams should study hard and stick to whatever schedule they have.
“Whenever you feel like you want to give up, don’t give up. Try your best and do your best.”
Todd, who attended a private school, admitted that there were initial challenges adapting to online learning.
“It was really hard not having a teacher in front of you with a chalkboard and explaining with all the words directed to you. But I actually ended up learning how to cope with that so I could have studied better,” he said.
Todd said if he has a choice between classroom and online learning, he would choose the classroom. Meanwhile, David said he entered the exam room full of confidence knowing that he had been topping his class ever since to entered primary school.
There is no internet access for the children who attend Mortice Primary which is situated on the Mahaica River. Those children depended on the worksheets supplied by the Education Ministry and the Learning Channel.
David and Hemraj Lakeram both came from Mortice Primary.
Lakeram, who gained 504 marks and a place at St Stanislaus College, said he is proud of his achievement of being in the region’s top ten. He said he made many sacrifices which included reducing the number of hours he used to play and utilised them to study.
Lakeram said he got up at 04:00h to study and also borrowed his sister’s school books to study.
“Reading her Form One and Grade Six books and going on YouTube and the Learning Channel,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Hussain of Sapodilla School of Excellence, who was sixth with 504 marks, said he was happy with his achievement but a little disappointed since he believes that he could have done better.
“I think I could have done better had it not been for all the online classes. Felt that we needed more face-to-face contact,” he said.
Rounding off the top ten were Khenraj Peetum of Sapodilla School of Excellence with 505 marks, Jaden Alfred of Latchmansingh with 504 marks, Indranie Ramoutar of Bath Primary and Mattanah Beephat of Number 29 Primary, 502 marks each, with all of them securing spots at St Stanislaus College in Georgetown.