NGSA 2019Officials of the Education Ministry on Thursday met with parents of students residing along the East Coast of Demerara who will be writing the National Grade Six Assessment later in April of this year.The meeting was held at the Beterverwagting Primary School, and was organised by the Department of Education, after statistics from the January 2018 mock examination showed that the overall average performance for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) was below 50 per cent.As such, Assistant Chief Education Officer (Primary) Carol Benn said an intervention was needed, since some students were lagging behind.“After the completion of the analysis, we have found that while some of our children performed satisfactorily, many of our children were lagging behind, and this is a worrying sign for us…The learners in Region Four in the Grade Six class did not reach an overall of 50 percent and over at the mock assessment,” said Benn.A section of the parents who showed up at the meetingEducation Minister Nicolette Henry told the meeting, attended by hundreds of parents, that preparation is essential towards ensuring that passes are secured at a reputable secondary institution.“Parents are very important, and therefore we need to have a very collaborative relationship with parents across this country… Definitely, I’m looking forward to seeing better results. It is important for them, because it will determine which secondary school they will be attending,” said Henry.A number of concerns were raised in relation to the delivery of education. Many concerned parents voiced their dilemmas over factors in the education system which they believe are hindering the learning process and overall performance of their children.According to some, some teachers are arriving at school later that their stipulated time, and the students are not being taught anything on some days.One woman stated that her child was told by his teacher to bring a red-coloured pen to school, so that students can mark each other’s books.This did not go down well with the minister, who stated that the teachers should be responsible for checking the books after these activities.“When I check his book and ask if the teacher marked this. He said, ‘No, another child in the class did it’. They would exchange books and the teacher would have them mark the work. I’m not saying that it is a bad strategy, but the teacher needs to recheck that to ensure that our children are marking it correctly,” she said.Others lobbied for a timetable to be implemented for the students, since they are required to carry numerous heavy books which are not used every day. This causes a physical discomfort and mental strain on students.“Grade Six is just a level away from the Grade Seven class. When they go to secondary school, they are automatically given a timetable, so they know what to take. I’m just asking on the Ministry’s level if it’s not possible to work on a timetable for these children, because they have school books, text books, past paper books, dictionaries, atlas…”Meanwhile, some suggestions called for the mock exams to be slated at a much earlier date, so that parents can understand the weaknesses of the children. Currently, the exams are held just a few weeks before the official NGSA sitting.“Rather than having the mock exam in this term here, if we could have probably had it at the end of Grade Five, so that we, parents, can recognise the weaknesses of the child and (be) able to address (them). That would be very wise for us,” he explained.Before the NGSA examination on April 17 and 18, the last mock examination is slated for March 28 and 29.