Mashabo Primary School shines at NGSA despite challenges in that small hinterland community

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

By Raywattie Deonarine

The batch of Grade Six Mashabo Primary School students who sat the NGSA exam

Mashabo, a picturesque Indigenous community on the Essequibo Coast with just a handful of residents, sits on the bank of the Mashabo Lake which is one of the largest of the five lakes in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region.

The community is closely knitted, and everyone celebrates each other’s achievements. This time around, they have a lot to celebrate, since the students of the Mashabo Primary School have performed beyond expectations.

Mashabo Primary School, located approximately five miles inland from the Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), managed to shine at the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examinations for the second time after three years.

“Although only 30 per cent of the staff is trained, we conducted CPD with the staff and adopted best practices from other schools. Notably, team teaching and teaching using subject experts have proven successful. The success at this year’s NGSA was not without its challenges, some of which included printing of worksheets, positive cases of COVID-19, transportation difficulties, no access to electricity and internet at the school,” Sir Beepat related.The school, for the first time in 2018, attained passes to a “List A” secondary school in the region. That moment was registered as historic because, since its establishment in 1986, the school did not receive a “List A” secondary school.

However, despite the numerous challenges in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, difficulties in transportation, no electricity, no internet, and lack of necessary resources, Mashabo Primary School has managed to shine at the NGSA examination. Its performance is being labelled as the greatest in the community, since the school achieved five passes to “A List” school out of fifteen students who sat the National Assessment examinations.

Attaining the highest marks for the school was Shivanne Hendricks, who secured 454 marks at the NGSA exam and copped a spot at the prestigious Abram Zuil Secondary School. Denory A Charles, who gained 430 marks, copped second, while Caitlin M. Hendricks secured the third position by gaining 418 marks. Attaining fourth position was Barron N. Bartholomew, who scored 411 marks, while Miriam N. Boodhoo secured the fifth position with 410 marks. All five pupils have been awarded a spot at the prestigious Abram Zuil Secondary School.

According to Headmaster Modi Ram Beepat, his students excelled in an environment that challenged them tremendously.

Leading up to the examinations, Sir Beepat said, the children were given extra lessons on the Essequibo Coast, which groomed them mentally and academically. During the middays and evenings also, the children were involved in extra classes.

He commended Miss Karashme Persaud for her dedication and the patience and time she spent with the children. The headmaster said many of the children’s parents were faced with financial difficulties, since the community lacks jobs.

Many of them could not afford to purchase textbooks for their children to do research. As such, the headmaster said, he transported the children to the Essequibo Coast, where he could have gotten access to the internet.

“Team Mashabo endured, persevered, and worked assiduously to prepare pupils for this external exam. Additionally, we are grateful for some key stakeholders who played a pivotal role in our success. These include the parents, Department of Education, Ministry of Education, RDC, and Guyana- Jamaica Friendship Association,” the proud Headteacher said.

The school’s head said they are happy that electricity has been restored to the school’s building, and pupils can now access the learning channel through E Network’s satellite TV and view educational videos on their tablets. However, they are even more grateful for the internet access that was installed at the school.

To conclude their success at the examination, Sir Beepat proudly said this was no accident; rather, it was hard work, dedication, perseverance, sacrifice, and most of all love for their job as teachers to educate their students. Most of the knowledge he shared with the children was grasped from YouTube.

Beepat, who has been in the teaching profession for over 20 years, said it is his desire for the hinterland children to excel at the examinations, and that they be given the tools to bridge the gap.

He said parents in the community are struggling to send their children to school, due to financial difficulties, and often the children would stay home from school because they have to look after their siblings while their parents seek employment. The school, however, has a feeding programme, which encourages attendance.

Grade Six teacher Miss Karashme Persaud

“With this donation that was done, students were able to use their device to do more research, and look at YouTube videos in order to get a better understanding of what the teacher is teaching in the classroom. This was a great success for the students, has assisted them in bettering their studies, understanding, and research skills during the pandemic,” the HM told Sunday Times.

Meanwhile, Miss Karashme Persaud, who taught the students that excelled at the National Grade Six Assessment examinations (NGSA), has said she is very elated and pleased with the students’ results. Persaud added that it’s her first batch of Grade Six students, and she is motivated by them to continue her dedication and time spent teaching them.

“It all pays off in the end, because it’s my first batch of Grade Six students I’m teaching that has done exceptionally well. I will say this is a big history for me, since it’s the first time the school has secured five “List A” secondary schools at NGSA. It was my pleasure working with them,” Persaud said.

The teachers who are attached to the school are also facing difficulties accessing the community, especially during the rainy season. On a daily basis, they have to be at the landing as early as 07:00hrs, and whenever it rains, they would be soaked, but still have to teach for the entire day.

Mashabo is an Indigenous community located approximately 10 miles from the Huist t’Dieren Public Road. The Mashabo Primary School currently has a staff of eight teachers with a school population of approximately 90 pupils.