The General Council of the Guyana Teachers Union is to meet this Friday to discuss the union’s official position on the decision by the Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Examinations Council to move ahead with Common Entrance and CSEC Exams in the month of July.
GTU President Mark Lyte explained this afternoon that the Teachers Union still has a concern about the examinations being held at this time when Guyana is still facing the coronavirus pandemic.
“For the National Grade Six Assessment, we are concerned about the 1st and 2nd July timeline because of the psycho-social support the children should receive prior to re-entering the school environment, coming in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic where much is not known about the virus and asking these children to be placed in an environment where they may not be able to understand the importance of social distancing and all the other protocols related to COVID-19”, Lyte said.
Schools in Guyana have been closed since March, resulting in the sitting of the national examinations being postponed.
However, the Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday that the Common Entrance examinations will take place on the 1st and 2nd July. Schools will be reopened for Grade Six students from the 15th June so that they could begin revision sessions at classes that should be held just three days in the week.
The President of the Guyana Teachers Union said there will still be the need for additional preparation work to be done with the students since they have been home for the past three months.
He said “the children will need some preparation work done with them prior to them sitting the exams and it would be required of teachers and other school staff to be back in the school environment and we are concerned about the state of readiness of those schools in relation to the protocols that are in place”.
The Guyana Teachers Union had recommended a later examination for the common entrance children where they would have entered in the secondary school next January instead of September.
On the issue with the examinations for secondary school students, the Caribbean Examinations Council announced last week that the CSEC and CAPE exams will begin in mid-July. The Guyana Teachers Union also believed that the exam timeline for those exams should have been further delayed. He explained that the union had put forward a number of recommendations for CXC to look at for the sitting and format of the examinations. The recommendations were not taken on board by CXC and the regional body has moved ahead with its plans to have the exams from the 13th July.
Mr. Lyte said because CXC is a regional examination, it would be more difficult to get the organisation to better examine the situation in Guyana as new COVID -19 cases are still being reported.
The GTU’s General Council is the highest decision making body in the Teachers Union. This Friday’s meeting is likely to put out a statement expressing the concern of the Teachers Union and how it intends to have its concerns addressed.