Apr 14, 2017 News
– Over $33 million approved for classroom equipment at UG
For the improvement of performances at the primary level, Cabinet has granted approval for the expending of $125 million. This sum will be paid to the Caribbean Examinations Council [CXC] as a consultancy services fee.
This is according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon who, at a Post Cabinet press briefing yesterday, disclosed that CXC has been recruited to deliver its consultancy services for the administration of the National Grades Two, Four and Six Assessments.
Harmon said that the funds will be handed over to the Ministry of Education, which will be tasked with expending same.
Poor performance in Mathematics at the National Grade Six Assessment [NGSA] level was last year considered a matter of national urgency by Cabinet. It was underscored even then that the daunting performance requires Government’s focused attention and commitment to finding adequate and appropriate solutions in the shortest possible time.
Members of Cabinet had moreover met and deliberated “as a matter of extreme urgency and grave national importance,” the unsatisfactory results in Mathematics nationwide.
The 2016 NGSA was written on April 27 and 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 had been consistent with previous years, this was not the same for Mathematics and Science last year. Both fell below what was obtained in previous years.
The best performance in Mathematics last year was secured by one of the top national performers, Aryan Singh (of the Dharmic Rama Krishna School), who also produced the best performance in Social Studies. Singh and Anthony Ferreira of Mae’s Under 12 were named the top performers at the 2016 NGSA with a total score of 568 marks each. The highest possible total score obtainable was 583.
Senior officials from the Ministry of Education, including Senior Minister Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, were engaged by Cabinet to examine the declining performance of pupils in mathematics. However, it was noted that even before Government’s intervention, Guyana had consistently failed to achieve acceptable pass rates in Mathematics, an important core subject.
In recognition of the shortcoming, the Ministry of Education had solicited the support of CXC to help conduct the assessment for the Grade Six pupils.
The basis of the assessment used by CXC was radically different from what was used previously by the Ministry of Education. What was observed last year was an increased focus on reasoning and a decreased emphasis on retention.
Moreover, the new method to testing as implemented by CXC exposed even more, the weakness of the previous approach to education that was 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 this 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.
Teachers, subject specialists and test development officers were tasked with developing all items for the 2016 NGSA, with the technical guidance of CXC. The support from CXC also included making the local professionals competent to address key areas such as item construction, weighting of items, sampling and other psychometric elements.
Minister Roopnaraine had noted that, “the objective of this consultation is to ensure that all assessments conform to regional and international test development and administration standards and expectations to facilitate consistent, reliable measurement and tracking of pupil performance”.
CXC has since been recruited to lend its services not only to the NGSA, but also the Grades Two and Four Assessments.
The 2017 NGSA, which commenced Wednesday and concluded yesterday, saw the participation of a total of 13,657 pupils. According to Chief Education Officer [ag], Mr. Marcel Hutson, the measures the Ministry has introduced, with the support of CXC, have directed keen focus on helping pupils to apply problem-solving skills. He is, moreover, convinced that the efforts plugged into preparing the pupils will translate to improved Mathematics performances at this year’s NGSA.
Meanwhile, Minister Harmon at yesterday’s Post Cabinet Press briefing revealed that Cabinet also approved contracts for the procurement of classroom equipment for the University of Guyana. The contracts, he disclosed, will be awarded in two lots. Lot one of the contract, which has been awarded to Digital Technology, will entail the procurement of computers and printers to the tune of $15,415,000. The other lot valued at $18,864,000 will cater to the procurement of multimedia equipment, and has been awarded to NetCom.
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