The first batch of Guyana Society for the Blind candidates to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations have been successful, with the top performer obtaining five Grade One passes.
Ten Society for the Blind candidates wrote the special sitting of the examinations, as part of a pilot project that began last year, and an overall pass rate of 82.4% was achieved.
The candidates sat Mathematics, English Language, Human and Social Biology, Principles of Business and Office Administration.
The examinations were no different from the examinations sat by other students, however, the format for undertaking it varied. The examinations were administered on computers with special braille keyboards to accommodate the visually impaired/blind students.
During a press conference hosted at the Society’s Werk-en-Rust headquarters yesterday, the project coordinator Ganesh Singh, who is also blind, said that the achievement of the candidates was a major occasion for the society.
According to Singh, although the candidates entered the project with no significant high school education, they excelled. They completed the syllabi for some subjects months in advance. This, he said, was possible because they saved the time spent on note taking because all the information was already organised into digital editions, which the candidates would first read before interactions with their teachers, which proved to be an effective teaching mechanism. The syllabi were taught by three teachers who weren’t formally trained and had no special skill in dealing with the differently-abled students, while a visiting expert checked in intermittently.
He credited the project to the government’s One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) programme.
He explained that during efforts to help the students to become computer literate, he realised that they could sit examinations using the computers.
Singh said that the organisation had deep gratitude for the Ministry of Education, which covered the examination fees, the OLPF,
the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company for providing free internet access and Digital Technology for providing support as well. He also used the occasion to highlight the need for more corporate sponsors. “If we can achieve this with so little, imagine what we can do if we get more,” he noted.
The top student, Rosemarie Ramitt, 19, who aspires to be an English teacher, said that she plans to go to the Cyril Potter College of Education to further her studies.
Ramitt attained five Grade Ones. She was grateful for the support she received but noted that it was a struggle to prepare for the examinations.
The second top performer is 36-year-old mother Odessa Blair, who plans on attending the University of Guyana to study to become a social worker.
She obtained five Grade Twos. She said that the journey was filled with many challenges but she was successful at the end of the day and thanked everyone for the support.
Vishaul Mohabir, 20, who also wants to become a social worker, obtained three Grade Ones, a Grade Two and a Grade Three. Mohabir said that writing CSEC was just a dream which he is most elated to have been able to realise. He added that because of his disability, he didn’t do well in school and encouraged more differently-abled persons not to give up and strive to do better.
President of the Society Cecil Morris congratulated the candidates for a job well done, while telling them that they were in a better position to continue their studies.
One of the teachers, Vanessa Low-A-Chee commended them for a job well done and hoped that more funding can be derived now that the world has seen what they can do.
OLPF Deputy Project Manager Azariah Asim congratulated the students for their performance and indicated his optimism about future collaborations.