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Pandemic struggles to SEA success: Hardbargin RC student gives thanks

12-year-old, Ganesh Ragbir

On Friday July 1, the Hardbargain RC School, Williamsville held a graduation ceremony for the outgoing Standard Five Students who sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA). That event coincided with the release of the results from the exam, so it became a double celebration as students did well.

A school official told Catholic News that the “students had a difficult journey through the pandemic, but they persevered. They, together with their class teacher, Mrs Tuitt, made their Hardbargain RC family so proud of their grit and determination through each obstacle that was placed before them.”

One of them was Ganesh Ragbir. The 12-year-old, from Sisters Road, Williamsville, had to try and keep up with the curriculum without having a computer.

The pandemic caused a shift to online classes from September 2020, so he accessed classes on the Zoom platform using his mother’s J5 mobile phone, which has a five inch screen.

In Standard Four, domestic issues led to a six-month relocation to his grandmother’s home in Gasparillo. Connectivity there was terrible, and he missed the end-of-term test June last year. His teacher facilitated him doing it after the scheduled date. Back home in Williamsville, his attendance was regular.

“I used to make sure he logged on and do all the sessions and if he don’t understand something I used to tell him to ask ‘Miss’ or tell ‘Miss’ he did not understand and she will explain it to them,” his mother Geeta Ragbir, told the Catholic News in an interview on July 12.

She said Ganesh would try to figure things out himself. “He will keep on studying and he burst his brain and he will figure out and get the answer…sometimes his cousin or his sister will give him a little help but normally he will do his work for himself.”

After the online classes, Ganesh would do homework or revise using past test papers. When he was done, he would take a walk or have a meal. Ragbir said she encouraged Ganesh to study. “I want him to be somebody…so hecould … pass for a good school, so he could get a good job.”

When physical classes resumed in February this year Ganesh was present daily and worked to catch up. His father Rishi and his younger brother and older sister are overjoyed that he passed for San Fernando Central Secondary School (Mod Sec). It was his second choice. “I really pushed him” Ragbir commented, after saying how happy she felt.

Ganesh conveys a modest character. He said he is happy with the results after all his hard work. His persistence with his studies was because he wanted to pass for one of his chosen schools. He belongs to the Hindu faith and said prayers helped him do his work better.

In the future, Ganesh hopes to become a businessman doing imports of cars and trucks.

For leisure Ganesh runs, exercises, rides his bike, and plays games.

The youngster did not mention that he ran competitively, it was his mother who reminded of his achievement in athletics getting medals and trophies for his school.

He was pleased to interject that he ran a race before the pandemic started. The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union had a 5K/marathon in 2019 and Ganesh was one of the youngest competitors.

Ganesh was born with a cleft palate, which caused him to have one nostril at birth. Surgery was done when he was six months and one year to repair the palate. Another surgery is still needed as he still had a hole inside his mouth in which food sometimes gets caught. He also needs to get braces.

Ganesh was never made to feel different by his peers and although his speech is affected, a school official told the Catholic News, “it did not stop him from persisting daily”.

On the day of the graduation ceremony when Ganesh found out he was going to his second choice, he told his principal, “Obedience brings blessings.”

He was no less elated and proud for his best friends who passed for Naparima College, Presentation College, and Holy Faith Convent. For him it was a blessing they got their first choice.

After praising Ganesh for his commitment to studies despite limitations, the school official said, “He excelled not only academically, but he is also an exceptional human being with great values and humility.”