This bright student was disadvantaged because she missed the Grade 2 and 4 exams

Dear Editor,

It is now common knowledge that for decades Guyana has been losing its brightest minds to other countries. I am sure that a survey would show that this is not only because these persons see “green pastures” out there. They also leave because of the lack of fair-play, frustration and the many inequities they face each day. People do not want to live in a land where the system is draconian and the rules flex and sway depending on who you are.

A few years ago a relative of mine re-migrated to Guyana with her young daughter. The primary school that the child was placed in was overcrowded and each day the child came home she reported that they were doing work that she had already done in a previous grade. We therefore made the sacrifice and sent her to a private school. At first Social Studies was a challenge but she soon mastered it and continued to be an “A” student.

In the recent Grade Six Examination, the child that she kept competing with for first place at her school, placed within the top ten. Another child who was no competition for her placed in the top twenty. She was awarded a place at a junior secondary school. We immediately requested a review for which we were charged five thousand dollars (a fee that is no doubt prohibitive to many as it was to this single mom) None-the-less, with the help of the family it was paid.

At the time the child was enrolled in school, we asked how the Ministry would deal with the fact that this child had missed the Grade2 and 4 exams. We were advised by the school that there is a different formula for calculating the grades of such children, and our enquiries revealed that when this new system was instituted there was. To our consternation, on the day that the review was being requested one official told us that the child is given zero and another told us that the child is given a “mean score”.

We now have the results of the review. The score and school allocation remain the same. We also have confirmation that the child was given zero for the tests she missed when she was living abroad. This means she started off with a score of negative 15% on the day of the examination.  She also never had a chance of going to Queen’s College or Bishops’ High School, the schools she worked for and, all things being equal, she would have very easily been awarded.  How did the Ministry of Education deal with cases of successful candidates who missed one or maybe both of the school-based exams?

Needless to say, the child in question is devastated, traumatized, and dejected. And so is her mother!

Needless to say also, all our efforts to have the powers that be truly review this case have all met with a solid brick wall.

Now let us look at the bigger picture. What is the Ministry or for that matter the Administration saying to our children? What are they saying to the people of Guyana? Are they telling this innocent, impressionable child and all other young impressionable children that hard work and genuine achievement and success mean nothing here in Guyana? Are we saying to people who leave Guyana and want to come home that they are not welcome, they will be penalized if they do?

What are we saying to our partners in Caricom, in fact what are we saying to the Caricom initiative? Are we saying shove the free movement concept? Are we saying to them that if they come to Guyana their children will automatically be placed at the bottom of the barrel?

It is a sad day for this mother and daughter so they are contemplating a move to a place where bright young minds are appreciated and nurtured. In the mean time we who are left here have to decide if this is acceptable behaviour or not.

We all know that a mother hen will often go to all lengths to protect her chicks. Maybe creating a change in this deeply flawed system will only come about at the hands of a pack of irate mothers. But are we leaving them to do this on their own?

I am contemplating a one man picket on behalf of my relative but my friends are warning me that since I am a government worker this may cause repercussions. I am so angry that I am yet to decide if I will listen to them or simple throw caution to the wind. After all what good is a man if he has lost his soul and spirit?

Yours faithfully,
Name and address supplied

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