With Schools across Guyana set to reopen on Monday to facilitate preparation classes for the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), the Guyana Teacher Union (GTU) is of the view that the Ministry of Education is grasping at straws as efforts are being made to justify the decision to proceed with the exams despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
GTU’s President, Mark Lyte in a release stated that a recent article emanating from the Ministry of Education (MoE) states that consultations and meetings were held with the GTU throughout the process is fallacious. He stated that the Ministry should produce its minutes to support the fabricated statements that he attended any meeting to agree on dates for NGSA, CSEC, and CAPE examination which they continue to pedal in the media.
According to him, ”You would recall that GTU wrote MoE on April 8, 2020, highlighting our concerns relating to CSEC and CAPE being written in June and July of 2020. There was no response forthcoming from MoE, on the matter, for over three weeks.”
Subsequently, the Union vented its frustration in the media on this matter. Thereafter, another letter was written when rumors surfaced that schools would reopen in June and NGSA will be written in July. Again, no formal response was given by the MoE.
The union wrote a third letter seeking a meeting with MoE. It was at this time that MoE extended an informal invitation to the GTU officers, via telephone. This meeting was held on June 3, 2020, and attended virtually by officers of the Union. At that meeting, a presentation was done by the CEO highlighting the options for NGSA dates and format of examination along with CXC new dates for examinations.
After the presentation, GTU was asked to share its concerns. As President, I indicated in a clear and profound way that GTU does not agree with the DATE set for NGSA, CSEC nor CAPE. Further, I stated the Union’s disapproval of the format for CSEC and CAPE.
The union inquired whether this was a consultation and was told that the Union was the first of many groups of stakeholders with whom consultations would be held. We then requested to know what the outcome of the other consultations was so that we could have further discussions. This was agreed to by the representatives of MoE. Two days later, without any formal discussion as promised by MoE, dates and the timetable for NGSA were seen in the media, much to the surprise of the GTU.
”I write to say that the libelous release of the MoE which seeks to besmirch my character and create a rift among officers and members of the GTU will not work. We are resolute in our position that the timing and format of these examinations are poor coupled with the fact that COVID-19 is still affecting Guyanese.”
Based on those reasons, the Union objected then and now to the timeline and format of these examinations.
Just recently, the union reported to the MoE that one teacher from Region One had tested positive, which MoE was able to verify. Yesterday, there were unconfirmed reports that two other teachers, from the same region, have also tested positive for the virus.
The union added that if proper consultations were carried out or consideration was given to the Union’s position, that is, for the examinations to be done in September 2020, all teachers would have been encouraged to turn out to work and do what they do best.
”As President of the GTU, I will not be drawn into any back and forth with MoE but hope that mutual respect is upheld. Attempts to tarnish the character of the president of the GTU or any other hardworking, law-abiding citizen of this great country of ours must be debunked in the strongest possible way.”
The GTU is here to stay and will unequivocally represent our teachers at all times.
The MoE, having received the official time table from the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), announced that the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) will be held on the 1st and 2nd July 2020.
Meanwhile, the dates for Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) have been given as 13th July 2020- 4th August 2020 and 13th July–31st July 2020 respectively.
These examinations will be written using a paper-based modality.