Grade Six pupils will today and the last day of next month participate in what the Ministry of Education is describing as ‘Mock’ Assessments. The move follows on the heels of the Ministry’s efforts to put in motion activities to intervene in unsatisfactory performances in Mathematics.
According to the Ministry in a statement issued yesterday, “the Ministry of Education, as a part of its intervention activities in Mathematics, will be having two ‘Mock’ Assessments for the Grade Six pupils on Tuesday January 31 and Tuesday February 28, 2017.”
The assessments, the Ministry has revealed, will be conducted in all primary schools. The Ministry has not shared much more about the inaugural development.
Poor performance in Mathematics was last year identified as a matter of national urgency by Government.
The 2016 National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), which is designed to place pupils into appropriate secondary level institutions, was written on April 27 and April 28. A total of 14,386 candidates were assessed in the subject areas of Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English Language.
While the performance in English Language and Social Studies were consistent with previous years, this was not the same for Mathematics and Science. Both fell below what was obtained in previous years, the Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, had admitted.
It was therefore underscored that the daunting performance requires Government’s focused attention and commitment to finding adequate and appropriate solutions in the shortest possible time.
Senior officials from the Ministry of Education, including Minister Roopnaraine, were engaged by Cabinet to examine the declining performance of students in Mathematics at the 2016 NGSA.
For many years Guyana has consistently failed to achieve acceptable pass rates in Mathematics, an important core subject. Government has amplified in recent months that the previous approaches to this problem were evidently inadequate.
In its effort to address the daunting shortcoming, the Ministry of Education for the first time contracted the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to conduct the examination for the Grade Six students in Guyana.
The basis of the assessment used by the CXC was radically different from what was used previously by the Ministry of Education. What was observed was that there was an increased focus on reasoning and a decreased emphasis on retention, Government had underscored.
The new method to testing as implemented by CXC had reportedly exposed even more weaknesses of the previous approach to education adopted by the Ministry of Education in previous years.
As part of a plan for short and medium term measures, Cabinet called on the Ministry of Education and its technical advisors to identify all appropriate steps needed to remedy the prevailing situation.
Those steps included remedial training of teachers, better and more varied text books, more teaching aids and better use of technology in the delivery of education.
Government, last November, announced that it had allocated some $48 million to the Education Ministry.
The fund, according to Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, was expected to be expended by the end of December. But according to Harmon, Government is prepared to make provision for a further sum to be spent on the venture this year and going forward.
According to Harmon, funding for the Mathematics improvement venture was seen as a matter of immediate emergency.
He considered that “if you have a problem in primary, by the time you go to secondary the problem goes with you. So we figured that at the bottom level this is where it has to be dealt with initially, because if we don’t deal with it there, they will get to the secondary and university (levels) and the problem is never dealt with.”
In highlighting the need to undertake the improvement venture, Harmon intimated, “I believe that (based on) some of the reports I get out of our own university, we have some problems at the tertiary level as well.”
But according to Harmon, efforts will particularly be made to target the primary level, since improving the performance at this level is seen as of extreme importance now. He, however, assured that the long term plan of the Ministry of Education is to also address the performance at the secondary level.
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