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Guyanese top student to participate in UN talks on transforming education

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Samuel Haynes

Samuel Haynes, the Guyanese student who topped the region at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) in 2021, will be participating in global education talks organised by the United Nations (UN) next week in Paris, France.

Haynes, the 19-year-old former Queen’s College student, will be attending a pre-summit event hosted ahead of the “Transforming Education Summit” that will be held in New York in September. He was selected by the government to participate in these talks.

At this pre-summit, the young man is expected to underscore the importance of education, particularly in developing countries like Guyana which have been beset by challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a past student, I can offer a lot of advice on what can be done to improve education around the world so that our future generations can benefit,” Haynes told the News Room on Wednesday.

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Samuel Haynes collecting an award for outstanding performance from Chief Education Officer (CEO) Dr. Marcel Hutson at a prize-giving ceremony on Wednesday (Photo: Ministry of Education/ June 22, 2022)

Education Minister Priya Manickchand, who announced Haynes’ participation during an event on Wednesday, later told reporters that the local authorities are keen on offering solutions based on Guyana’s experiences.

“It’s the first time that the UN Secretary-General [António Guterres] is convening a summit to discuss transforming education in the world.

“…we’ve already done a series of consultations on how we can transform education in Guyana,” Manickchand said while engaging the media.

The Summit, according to information from the UN, seeks to mobilise political ambition, action, solutions and solidarity to transform education, particularly cognisant of the challenges that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education has been disrupted by the pandemic since schools were forced to close to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This led to numerous complications including concerns of learning losses such as school dropouts.

And the UN hopes that the global talks can assess efforts employed to recover pandemic-related learning losses, help reimagine education systems and revitalise national and global efforts at achieving universal quality education.

In Guyana’s case, Manickchand reminded the public that a raft of initiatives had been implemented to help curtail losses from the pandemic due to varying educational disparities.

These initiatives include providing much-needed learning material to all students, and creating and disseminating multimedia content

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Top-performing G/T primary school recorded 56% pass rate

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Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand

The Winfer Gardens primary school recorded a 56 per cent pass rate after its pupils sat the 2021 National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), making it the top-performing primary school in Georgetown.

The school’s performance was recognised on Wednesday, during a prize-giving ceremony organised by the Ministry of Education’s Georgetown department.

Further, the school topped in the areas of Science, Social Studies and English. It was only bested in Mathematics by the North Georgetown primary school.

Though the school was celebrated, its performance means just over half of its pupils were able to score grades 50 per cent and higher. It also means that every other school in the district had a lower pass rate.

And Education Minister Priya Manickchand indicated her concern.

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Information provided by the Ministry of Education’s website shows the pass rate, by subject, for public schools in Georgetown over the last five years

“You have children with high 90s in that 56 per cent but we have to change that in all schools.

“56 per cent is not even good,” the Education Minister said.

She, however, acknowledged that during the year of the assessment, the education system and those children confronted numerous challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information on the Education Ministry’s website, for the same Georgetown district, separated the pass rate by subject area.

Based on that information, there were improvements in children’s performance in English and Social Studies. In those subjects, the pass rates were 74 per cent and 63 per cent respectively.

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Information provided by the Ministry of Education’s website shows the national pass rate by subject

In Mathematics and Science, however, the numbers declined to their lowest in five years. The pass rate for Mathematics was some 39 per cent while the pass rate for Science was 45 per cent.

On a national level, the pass rate varied slightly by subject. For English, it was 66 per cent; Mathematics, 37 per cent; Science, 40 per cent; and Social Studies, 53 per cent.

Cognisant of these figures, the Education Minister emphasised, “This education system has to be reimagined and has to be transformed.

“We cannot do things the same way.”

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