Why isn’t the National Library named after Sir V.S. Naipaul
It is the best example of an on-going educational malpractice that no Government set out to dismantle. Any new Third Force Party must make this a cornerstone of a platform that also includes oil contract renegotiation. How in these modern times can a country design a system rooted in crass inequities and inequalities across its 116 secondary schools of varying quality? And then they celebrate the perceived winners and losers in an annual ritual of announcing the high scorers complete with their test scores, pictures and schools attended. In the USA, a child’s test scores are regarded as a confidential information subject to privacy laws, and is not released to the public the way we do in Guyana . We have no ethics, sensitivity, and regard for the self-esteem or feelings of students when we celebrate the achievement of only 182 top achievers when 16,223 students took the test.
The NGSA is a horse race. It assigns winners and losers. The test is worth 523 marks. Top scorers get a chance to go to 6 “top” schools located in Region Four. The cut-off mark for the top schools are Queen’s College-508, Bishops’ High -504, St. Stanislaus College-501, St. Rose’s High-498, St. Joseph High-495 and President’s College -488. These are regarded and promoted as the top, coveted schools that a student should aspire to attend. A child placed in any of these schools achieve elite status. You are a bright boy or bright girl, smarter than other boys and girls that could not get in. It was even said that QC students run Guyana. (See “Who really runs things in Guyana? by Peeping Tom, Nov. 8, 2014).
At this stage of our development, with the emergence and growth of an oil economy, a modern, relevant, aligned educational system is pivotal. Our current system is disjointed, unaligned, with various tertiary sectors on parallel roads. Our education leaders must talk about reform, reinventing, restructuring, redesigning, re-culturing, rethinking, reimagining, and the development of an “opportunity culture” that provides equal access to education across all schools and all regions. We can no longer justify Region Four having a preferential status and the other 9 regions must settle for crumbs that fall from the tables of the Georgetown folks. That is intentional designing of a moribund system based on educational malpractice. This must end now. How can we have only 12 of 116 schools offering CAPE ? How can we have 5 entire regions with no schools offering CAPE?
The root cause of having the NGSA placement test is because we have created a system of inherently unequal secondary schools along a continuum of poor rural schools to better, more resourced urban schools. If we use the US$40 million loan to address this problem and upgrade and equalize all secondary schools, create equal access and equal opportunity to a high-quality secondary education, we can abolish the NGSA. That will not be needed anymore to decide who gets into what school based on a test score. NGSA negates all that we know about high quality education – learning styles, multiple intelligences, quality staffing, parent and community support, equity, equal opportunity, equal access, inclusion, special education, academic rigor, access to modern technology, student and teacher.
The Ministry of Education is our largest Ministry with the most money ($74.4B+) and of great importance in national development. To whom much is given, much is required. We need brilliant, dynamic, innovative leadership at this Ministry, “Because We Care.” Wake up Guyana! Fight for a revamped education system! Let’s collect taxes from Exxon and build a modern education system! Read Part 1