Education Ministry’s awards ceremony highlights top performers Viewpoint
by Hydar Ally
Guyana Chronicle
October 18, 2001

THE Ministry of Education, as part of its Education Month activities, recently held its annual award ceremony to recognise students who excelled at the various examinations.

The ceremony highlighted the top performers not only at the national level, but also at the regional level. The main address was given by the Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who also took the opportunity to award the top prizes to students who excelled at the Advanced Proficiencies of the examinations.

The top performer at this year’s GCE ‘A’ Level is Amlata Persaud, who incidentally, also topped the country at the Secondary School Entrance Examination (SSEE) and the Caribbean Secondary School Certificates. I am not aware of any other Guyanese student with such a record of achievement.

It must be recalled that Amlata also won the overall best performance at the regional level last year, a remarkable feat only achieved by her fellow Queen’s College student Mohalani Chatterdeo, two years ago.

This year’s performance showed a much better spread of students’ achievement at both the SSEE and the CXC examinations. The two top performers at the SSEE are Jihada Ally of Cornelia Ida Primary School and Jason Johnson of West Ruinveldt Primary. Both tied with a score of 547 marks out of a maximum score of 560.

Good performances also came from Shavon Burgess of Cropper Primary, Region Six; Nadine Narine of Anna Regina Primary, Paul Dookdeo of Providence Primary, Region Four; Sasha Gittens of Watooka Primary, Region Ten and Devina Heeraman of St. Anthony Primary, Region Seven.

At the CXC General, Aparna Gajraj from Queen’s College stole the spotlight with nine Grade Ones and one Grade Two. Outstanding performances also came from David Gooray of Anna Regna Multilateral School with ten Grade Ones; Dara Holder of President’s College with passes in 13 subjects of which eight are obtained at Grade One Level. Tameshwar Algu of JC Chandisingh and Shri Jagjit of Bush Lot Secondary, Region Five also came out with flying colours. There is also Trichika Mc Bean of Mackenzie High, Jennifer Narine of St. Ignatius Secondary School and Bibi Rafeeya Abyal of Essequibo Islands Secondary.

I can go on and on. The list of outstanding performers is quite impressive and long. The significant point to note, however, from the above sample is that we seem to have a much better spread of high-flyers drawn from a more representative list of schools than was previously the case when the best performers were high skewed in favour of a few city schools. This spread for me is most encouraging and is no doubt an indication that the various interventions and strategies employed by the Ministry of Education to upgrade education quality at the various levels is beginning to bear fruit.

Another important point to note is that it is possible to obtain good education in any part of the country so long as the key ingredients are present. These include tight management and supervision of the curriculum delivery at the level of the school by the Head of the school, active Parent-Teachers body, a motivated and disciplined teaching force and a culture of accountability to name, but a few.

The Head of the school has a pivotal role to play in this regard. The saying that good headteachers make for good schools is, in my view, quite apt, of course with the help of important stakeholders such as parents and guardians. Schools if they are to succeed must draw on community resources, which often are left untapped.

The Ministry of Education in recognition of this imperative has moved to institutionalise stakeholder participation in the management and delivery of education with the establishment of a National Advisory Committee on Education which includes representatives from a wide spectrum of the Guyanese community including the business community, which ultimately, are the main beneficiary of an educated and skilled workforce. The intention is to seek to develop strategic alliances with major stakeholders in order to take advantage of the tremendous resources and goodwill, which exist, in the wider society. The support of the donor community in terms of technical and financial support has been significant and has contributed in no small way to improved sector performance.

Of course much more remains to be done. Education is far too critical for human and national development for one to be complacent about. This is particularly true in this new global dispensation where knowledge and ideas are now regarded as the driving force behind economic and social progress. We live today in what is described as the knowledge society characterised by the utilisation of information and communication in the decision making process.

This is why it is crucial to invest heavily in our young people and to provide them with the basic skills to cope effectively with the challenges of the changing times. The use of information and communication technology, in particular distance education, now makes it possible to reach out to people who otherwise would not be in a position to benefit from education opportunities.

The Ministry of Education is committed to making quality education available to an increasing number of students especially at the secondary level. This year, for the first time, students from Community High Schools and Primary tops sat the CXC examinations with encouraging results. The Ministry is in the process of converting all primary tops and Community High Schools into General Secondary Schools, which will provide new opportunities for these students to sit the CXC examinations. It will also erase the stigma associated with these schools.

I would like, in concluding this Viewpoint, to congratulate all those students who excelled this year. I would also like to take the opportunity of this Viewpoint to salute our teachers on the occasion of International Teachers Day, which was observed on October 5. HyHy