Oct 20, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic was one hurdle for local students sitting the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), but for students residing in hinterland districts, they also had to cope with the challenge of internet availability and connectivity, in addition to the timely provision of learning material and limited learning resources. This was the case with students attending the Howell Wilson Primary School, a small community primary school, located in the remote Upper Demerara-Berbice village of Ituni.
The small batch of students not only performed outstandingly at the 2021 NGSA, but copped five spots in the Sub-Region #2 top 10 spots, including the first place. Top student, Tabitha Fox, secured 506 marks and was awarded a place at the Bishops’ High School. The school’s Headmistress and also the Grade Six teacher, Yvonne Nazier, expressed how extremely proud she is of the students, staff and herself for collaborating to ensure such success occurred.
Following Fox, is Laurel George, who scored 495 marks and secured a place at St. Joseph’s High. Placing fourth on the sub-region’s list of top students is Ambleleena Grant, who scored 483 marks, which secured her a place at Mackenzie High School; the fifth place goes to Navindra Jaigopaul, who scored 479 marks, which secured him a place at Mackenzie High School, and Kristine Lim who scored 473 marks which also secured this student a place at Mackenzie High.
Speaking on how she navigated the pandemic to prepare for the exams, Nazier explained that while face-to-face learning was made available, COVID-19 protocols were observed at its strictest, but this was hindered to some extent, when the community recorded its first COVID-19 case.
“When there was an active case, we stayed away for 14 days. It took a little more sacrifice; it had times when I think I would be putting myself and my family at risk, due to the fact that you don’t know what the parents and children are doing at home,” Ms. Nazier explained.
She also added that she would place her family on the back burner in her efforts to secure outstanding grades for the pupils, even if it comes on the heels of facilitating evening revision classes, a strategy she has used, and which has proven to work over the years.
Ms. Nazier, who is a resident of Ituni, has been a teacher for some 33 years, and disclosed that it is only of recent that the school has been gaining recognition for its outstanding performances. “Howell Wilson Primary does great every year, it is only recently, four years ago, that recognition would have been given. Former AFC Member of Parliament, Audwin Rutherford, would have been instrumental in highlighting the sub-district’s hard work over the recent years,” she disclosed
In 2011, the school recorded a spot at the Bishops’ High while in 2012, a student secured admission to St. Stanislaus College. Prior to that, many students secured spots at St. Joseph’s High and Mackenzie High over the years, according to Ms. Nazier.
Nazier, who will be retiring in the near future, is calling for the establishment of a secondary school in the community, as she believes this would curb the issue of school dropout. “Not necessarily as a result of social ills, but the mere fact that the community exists without a secondary school for so many years, it poses a significant impact on the pockets of parents, who would have to foot the bill of the child/children attending a secondary school outside of their community, most times in Linden, where it is deemed the most suitable in providing their child/children with the highest quality of education, that sits closest to home.”
“I always put this forward to the Ministry, the community needs a secondary school. With a secondary school, we will have a much lower school dropout rate. Financial constraints are a major contribution to this, before the pandemic,” she revealed.
The Head Mistress is calling on the Ministry of Education to also take into consideration the construction of a Teacher’s Hostel in the community as well, since the community has only one house, which accommodates only three teachers. She expressed this as a need, since she will be retiring in the next five years, and would be followed by three other seasoned teachers.
She also urged parents to continue to encourage their children to pursue success, although they did not secure a top school. “It’s not that others did not do well, but they would have not received a top school. I encourage parents to not let their children fall by the wayside.”
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