Ministry of Education, Guyana

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 10:21

2017 NGSA results…Unfair match between public and private schools – says CEO

There remains an unfair match between public and private schools. This assertion was made by Chief Education Officer [CEO], Mr Marcel Hutson, when the Ministry announced the results of the National Grade Sixnews 20170705
According to Hutson, although it has been ascertained that the private schools normally outdo the public schools, it has also been recognised that the private schools are really not that impacting at the assessment.

“I thought that the private schools impacted significantly on the overall results of these examinations and then it turned out not to be so,” said Hutson.
Hutson was formerly the Assistant CEO with responsibility for primary education before being tasked with the responsibility of CEO, a position to which he was appointed earlier this year.
But according to Hutson, even as ACEO primary he was not fully aware of the extent of the disparity between the public and private schools.
“Because I am sitting in this position now I have looked at the performance of the private against public. Right now the statistics are still being worked out by the Exams Division, but I tell you what I used to think. With respect to the public schools, you had thousands of children writing the examination. When I looked at the number of children, we had about 450 writing the examinations from private schools compared to thousands of children at the public schools,” noted Hutson.
A total of 13,329 candidates, from the combined public and private schools, participated in the NGSA this year.
According to Hutson, “If you want to make a comparison it is an unfair match really. The private schools, normally they outdo the public schools in the context of the examinations but there are other issues that I wouldn’t want to discuss now because not all the private schools do extremely well. We have the names that are usually mentioned but there are others that have not been performing so well,” said Hutson.
Among those who claimed the top 10 places a mere one was named from a public school – Graham’s Hall Primary. The other schools that produced the top 10 performing candidates are School of the Nations, Mae’s Under 12, Success Elementary, Academy of Excellence, Swami Purnananda, Marian Academy, Dharmic Rama Krishna and ISA Islamic.
Speaking on the disparity situation, Minister of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry, shared her view that “when you look at private against public it can be like comparing apples to oranges.” The Minister premised her deduction on the fact that private schools have been known to pre-assess the children they accept while the public school must accept all.
“We do not have a system. If you don’t reach a certain level, in terms of performance, we will not ask you to go to another school. We have to work with you.”
“We work with what we have! What is important is that we provide every child the opportunity to reach their full potential,” stressed Minister Henry.
She continued, “There will always be people at the bottom based on performance because it has to do with ability and just like our fingers they are not always equal and we understand that. What we cannot do as a government is to fail people and that is where my responsibility comes.”
According to the Minister, in the quest to ensure that the quality of education has improved countrywide, “I took the time to go to the hinterland [because] I was concerned about the performance in Region Eight.”
It was during such a visit, Henry said, that “I was surprised that no male had passed Maths in Region Eight in 2016. I asked for the data for the last 10 years so that I could look at the trend to see what the performance was like.”
Dismayed with the Region’s performance the Minister said that moves were taken to realise improved performances not only in Region Eight but across all Regions.
“While you may not be privy to what we do internally, we take our mandate and our responsibility very seriously. I can say that [as] I serve as Minister I am setting ambitious goals for my staff and we are looking to have more than 50 percent passes in all subject areas. We can’t have more than 50 percent failing than passing a major examination like this,” the Minister asserted as she responded to questions from the media.
Aside from a 46 per cent pass rate in Mathematics this year up from 14 percent last year, the Ministry recorded 54 percent in English up from 42 percent last year. In the area of Science in 2016 there was a 28 per cent pass rate and again the 2017 performance has reflected an improved pass rate of 46 percent. And then in the area of Social Studies, this year the pass rate, though slightly improved, is 48 percent, up from 46 percent in 2016.
“I am always concerned about the issues of disparities, the issues of those that have nothing to celebrate when the results are announced and so we have taken a holistic approach. While you may not be able to get into the top schools, you must be able to get into a school that will allow you to realise your full potential.
“I think that is where we have to focus that is what we have to concentrate on. But we have taken several approaches which I would get into but it has to be a very integrated approach and at several levels we have to make interventions,” the Minister related.
Among the interventions that are underway that the Minister spoke of are training of teachers together with preparation and support for them. “We have to reduce disparities from the coastland to the hinterland in terms of education. We have to look at content delivery and the quality of the education that we currently provide and we also have to look at infrastructural needs because all of this will have to happen in a building that meets the minimum requirement,” said Minister Henry.
She, however, admitted that “there is a lot of work that has to be done and these things are happening simultaneously and we all have a part and role to play.”
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