–reiterates decision was based on “guidance, clearance, evidence and science”
Any assertion that consultations were not held between the Education Ministry and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) in relation to the reopening of schools for the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) for this year following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, are inaccurate and baseless.
This is according to the Ministry in question, which in a press release today stated that prior to the announcement to have the schools reopened, it met with President of the GTU, Mark Lyte, at the level of the Local Education Group and relevant discussions were held in relation to the matter.
“In addition, the Minister of Education also met with the GTU President. Other meetings were held subsequently with the Ministry and the GTU. With the recent announcement of the reopening of schools for the administration of the NGSA, CSEC and CAPE examinations, it is prudent to outline the basis upon which this decision was made; and to assure teachers, parents, guardians and others that their health and safety are of paramount importance,” the statement read.
According to the Education Ministry, the NGSA is a locally administered examination, while CSEC and CAPE are administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) which is a Regional body. These examinations were to be written on earlier dates but had to be postponed due to the closure of schools locally and Regionally which was occasioned by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Recognizing the seriousness of COVID-19, the Ministry’s decision to reopen schools for the sitting of the examinations was guided firstly by the Ministry of Public Health’s central role in the formulation of the health protocols for the sitting of these examinations. Secondly, by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) through a meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) for Ministers of Education of CARICOM who adopted the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) guidelines for the phased reopening of schools across the region and the sitting of CSEC and CAPE. These factors were considered by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) and its approval was granted for the reopening of schools.”
The Education Ministry reiterated that the health, safety and wellness of children and teachers in Guyana were its main considerations when this decision was taken.
“It is important to note that although the GTU and the Ministry of Education had different views on the matter, that does not take away from the fact that consultations were held between the two parties…the Ministry’s relation with the GTU is one that is important and highly valued. The Ministry of Education wishes to make it clear that the decision to reopen schools for these important examinations was based on guidance, clearance, evidence and science.”