• 04 Oct, 2023

Exposing the myth about Guyana’s excellent exam results

Exposing the myth about Guyana’s excellent exam results

Exposing the myth about Guyana’s excellent exam results [Part 1]

Once again, the Ministry of Education in Guyana with a “fixed mind-set” has held its “dog and pony show” to celebrate what is probably the worst aspect of our education system – the release of the 2022 NGSA National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) results. NGSA is the annual sorting mechanism that stratifies students and schools as smart or not so smart – in identifying winners who go to better schools and losers who go to less desirable schools. 

The Ministry obsesses over one percent of top performers – 182 students, although 16,223 students wrote the exams. So, what happens to the other 99% – 16,041 students – the majority? Goat bite them? Who cares about them going to poorer, lesser high schools? The root cause of this problem is we have created a majority of poor high schools when we need to upgrade all schools and make them comparable and equal. If all 116 high schools are near equal in quality, students can simply go to their neighborhood schools. We would not need the NGSA to sort them. It is time all Guyanese revolt against such a vile, pernicious, elitist system. We want change now!


Photo : Dr. Jerry Jailall  

Why should a student in Region One have to leave his village and come to Georgetown to have a better education? Is that right? Is that fair? Why should a student from Crabwood Creek, Wakenaam, Pomeroon or Leguan have to go to Georgetown to have a better-quality education? A student or family would have to uproot, disrupt their lives, and enter into great expense to find housing, etc. to attend the elite school. Do we not want to change this backward system? Why are we celebrating it instead? 

Out of the 182 students in Guyana’s top one per cent at this year’s NGSA, 45.5 % (81) are from Georgetown schools, or District 11. About 40% (73) are from private institutions – many of these are in Georgetown too. Failure rates at NGSA were: 41% failed social studies; 54% failed science; 65% failed math; 35% failed English. I worry more about the tens of thousands – the children of poverty – who are failing, not the 182 who are the top horses. This is a broken system!

Education, health and income are the most important equalizers in society. One’s life can rise or fall depending on access to these. Guyana is at least 15-20 years behind in developing a high-performing education system. An urgent need in Guyana is for smart education leadership to shatter the old model, the old paradigm, which is an anachronism in this the modern era of educational reform. The NGSA – a placement test – inherited from colonial times when it used to be called the “Common Entrance Exam” has no place in 2022 and beyond. You can’t put new wine in old wineskins. It’s a bad foundation on which to build a modern 21st century education system. I must use harsh words here. Read part 2