A 16-year-old school girl of the Essequibo Coast in Guyana has secured passes in the 20 subjects she wrote in this year’s Caribbean Secondary Examinations Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
Zimeena Rasheed, of Anna Regina Multilateral School (ARMS), who obtained 18 Grade Ones with 15 distinctions and two Grade Twos, said, “I expected to pass all the subjects but not at that level.”
The school also has another student, Yogeeta Persaud, who wrote 18 subjects and obtained all with Grade Ones.
Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Assistant Registrar Cleveland Sam could not confirm whether or not Rasheed would have secured the highest number of subjects ever at one sitting of the examinations, but confirmed that the highest number of subjects written at one time was 17 in Guyana last year. CXC offers a total of 33 subjects at the CSEC level.
CXC has not done an analysis of the top students as yet, Sam said, as the objective was to disseminate the results as soon as possible. The analysis of the top students, he said, should be completed in another three to four weeks. Asked if the education system allows students to write as many subjects as they would like to, Guyana’s Education Minister Priya Manickchand said, “We don’t disallow it if they show phenomenal ability.”
The country’s top 17 students, she noted, each obtained over 14 Grade Ones, with three obtaining over 16 Grade Ones.
Rasheed, who was in the science stream, obtained Grade One passes in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Integrated Science, Agricultural Science (Double Award), Human and Social Biology, Mathematics, English A, English B, Technical Drawing, Electricity, Office Administration, Principles of Business, Information Technology, Social Studies, Home Economics Management, Food and Nutrition, and Physical Education. Her Grade Two passes were in Caribbean History and Spanish.
Asked why she wrote all the subjects, Rasheed said, “It was really a challenge to myself. I wanted to challenge myself. Once my teachers and my mother (a kindergarden teacher) knew of my challenge they encouraged me.”
Rasheed, whose favourite subject is Technical Drawing and who wants to become a structural engineer, said that with the variety of subjects she has passed she has a variety of choices. Instead of going into Sixth Form she would prefer to pursue university studies.
As a top student from primary school, Rasheed has always been a high achiever having placed fifth in the country at the Secondary School Entrance Examination, also known as the “Common Entrance.”
Asked if she felt under pressure doing so many subjects, Rasheed said she maintained a balance with karate “had fun playing with my siblings” and other extra-curricular activities. She took extra lessons in subjects in which she felt she needed help and had a study partner.
She is a bronze medal awardee of the President’s Youth Award, Republic of Guyana, scheme and in another week’s time she will be pursuing a silver and a gold medal.
The first of three siblings, Rasheed is also a youth ambassador on the 2013-2014 Guyana-USA Youth Ambassador Programme.
To other students, she said, “If you would like to write as many subjects, I would encourage you to go for it. Preparation and focus is the key. Just find the balance with extra-curricular activities, and the end result will be satisfaction.”