Weaknesses associated with the National Grade Two, Four and Six Assessments were highlighted yesterday when the Ministry of Education held the first in a series of workshops geared at deriving remedial interventions.
The forum, which was held at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), saw the attendance of managers and educational professionals of several top primary schools countrywide.
According to Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, who played an integral role at the workshop, the need for remedial action comes as part of the Ministry’s strategic plan since it will serve to address the weaknesses of the National Grade Assessment System.
Based on the Ministry’s analysis over the years, the mean score of the assessments either remained static or fluctuated, thus no significant improvement in pupils’ performance has been realised.
This year, a total of 18,279 candidates will be entered to participate in the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA). According to the Minister, the Ministry has recognised that there is much need for the performance of pupils to be addressed urgently so that there could be a positive change in the results.
“It is timely that we review this assessment at each level. We will look at what remedial interventions must be put in place, because we cannot continue with the system whereby only about 60 per cent of children are reaching an acceptable standard, so we have invited all of the top school managers to share with us possible interventions that could improve the system,” the Minister disclosed.
At the forum it was highlighted that as a national programme, the assessment system could be more fair and realistic if external examiners are allowed to administer the assessment rather than teachers who teach at the very institutions. Moreover, it was speculated that there is a possibility that teachers could be biased in carrying out this crucial process.
And then there was the observation that some teachers may not clearly understand the difference between the term ‘assessment’ and ‘examination’, therefore they may not be preparing their pupils for an assessment.
Further, it was emphasised that there is a need for teachers to teach pupils the necessary skills they require to cope and not simply leave them to understand on their own at the respective levels.
According to Minister Baksh, all of the recommendations and solutions offered by the participants of the workshop will be considered and will shortly be included in the system.
“We will send a team to each region to work with the teachers and the school managers on the ways and means of improving the system. We will target those solutions and interventions that come out of this workshop.”
In a matter of days, Minister Baksh stated, a document will be produced entailing all of the shortcomings and solutions highlighted at the workshop, a basis from which workshops will be designed for the respective regions.
It is the anticipation of the Minister that with the remedial move, measures will be successfully put in place to help improve the system so that within the next year or two the assessments will yield better results.
“The primary level is the critical level and we are doing this with renewed vibrancy to ensure that we get better results. This will ultimately result in better performance at Grade Six in about two years’ time…”
Already the Education Ministry has several interventions on stream but, according to the Minister, there are problems that must be ‘smoothed out’ to ensure that all teachers are on board and that they understand what they have to do.
According to Baksh, it is his hope that the areas of Mathematics and English, the core subjects, will garner improved results urgently. He, however, noted that efforts must first be made to bring all problems to the forefront, coupled with the continuous implementation of measures to improve the system.
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