Ministry of Education on National Examinations Consultations
Ministry of Education
Thursday, June 11, 2020
The Ministry of Education wishes to provide some clarity on an issue raised by a public official on a recent radio programme asserting that consultations were not held between the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) concerning the reopening of schools for the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) for this year in wake of the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the outset, it should be noted that the Ministry of Education engaged the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), through its President Mr Mark Lyte at the level of the Local Education Group. In addition, the Minister of Education also met with the GTU President. Other meetings were held subsequently with the Ministry and the GTU.
With the recent announcement of the reopening of schools for the administration of the NGSA, CSEC and CAPE examinations, it is prudent to outline the basis upon which this decision was made; and to assure teachers, parents, guardians and others that their health and safety are of paramount importance.
As you are aware, the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) is a locally administered examination, while CSEC and CAPE are administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) which is a regional body. These examinations were to be written on earlier dates but were postponed due to the closure of schools locally and regionally which was occasioned by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognizing the seriousness of COVID-19, the Ministry’s decision to reopen schools for the sitting of the examinations was guided firstly by the Ministry of Public Health’s central role in the formulation of the health protocols for the sitting of these examinations.
Secondly, by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) through a meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) for Ministers of Education of CARICOM who adopted the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) guidelines for the phased reopening of schools across the region and the sitting of CSEC and CAPE. These factors were considered by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) and its approval was granted for the reopening of schools.
The health, safety and wellness of our children and teachers were our main considerations when this decision was taken. It is important to note that although the GTU and the Ministry of Education had different views on the matter, that does not take away from the fact that consultations were held between the two parties.
While it is appreciated that public officials should express their views on important issues such as the one under discussion, to say consultations were not held with the GTU is inaccurate. The Ministry’s relation with the GTU is one that is important and highly valued.
The Ministry of Education wishes to make it clear that the decision to reopen schools for these important examinations was based on guidance, clearance, evidence and science.