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Naparima College Form Five student Zayden Ramkissoon, second from left, who got As in the Cambridge Advanced Level Examination, celebrates with his family at their Gran Couva home last Friday. From left are his sister, mother Joy and father Sham Ramkissoon.

While the pandemic has caused some challenges in the education system, 17-year-old Zayden Ramkissoon saw it as an opportunity to pursue his academic goals and has churned out remarkable results.

Zayden Ramkissoon, 17, a student of Naparima College, signed up for the Cambridge A-Level examination months before he was due to write the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations during the academic year 2021/2022.

He studied for both examinations simultaneously and now he has 10 O’Level subjects, with eight distinctions under his belt as well as a Grade A in Mathematics, a Grade A in Physics and a Grade C in Further Mathematics.

During an interview with Guardian Media at his Gran Couva home, Zayden explained how online schooling gave him the additional time he needed to study.

He said, “Online classes definitely have their benefits and their disadvantages namely you don’t have to commute so that saves a lot of time and you could use that to do other things.”

Zayden also relied on the internet to help him prepare for his Cambridge exams, particularly with the Mathematics subjects.

“There are lots of resources on the internet namely YouTube and many websites and you can watch videos and there are lots of articles on everything you could possibly have questions on. That’s a thing people very much overlooked. They don’t realize that you can just google a lot of information. it there, it’s free,” he said.

Explaining why he chose to pursue two major exams concurrently, he said, “I had wanted to do the Cambridge A levels because I saw it as a good challenge and a good achievement to have and there are many advantages as well. It is internationally recognised and it is also harder than the local examinations CAPE so having it was a very good asset.”

When he entered Form Five he asked his teacher Dev Gosine to join the Upper and Lower Form Six Physics classes and three months before the Cambridge examinations he attended Mathematics classes.

As for his future plans, Zayden said he would eventually like to attend either the Cambridge or Bristol Universities to pursue mechanical or computer engineering, or even robotics, “something that may be beneficial to not just the country but maybe the whole world.”

Recalling that Zayden was an exceptional student, Gosine said, “I have been teaching at Naparima College for the last 35 years it takes students two years at A levels to get an A. This young man is now entering A Levels and has an A not just in Physics in Maths and he has a C in Further Maths too and I think is really an exceptional achievement.”

He said Zayden has managed to turn what the rest of the world thought was a very negative incident into something extremely positive.

“I think that is one of the lessons we could learn from this whole exercise,” he added.

Meanwhile, his proud parents Sham and Joy Ramkissoon took little credit for Zayden’s aptitude to work and his drive to excel.

“Zayden is 200 per cent in whatever it is doing he is not halfway he is very thorough and Zayden is fully focused you don’t have to tell him anything he knows what he is about,” said his father Sham Rampersad.

His mother Joy Ramkissoon said they gave Zayden encouragement and support.

She said,

“We did not push him or force him we just gave him his space, encouragement and love and we let him do everything on his own.”

|Thanking his parents, friends and teachers for their support, Zayden also offered some words of advice to other students.

“My first piece of advice would be to formulate a plan you cannot do anything without having a plan and this plan entails gathering resources, browsing the internet. I think sometimes it is really underrated, how beneficial it can be, because it is free and you can get so much information,” he said.

He also advised that they read their textbooks and go through as many past papers as possible, correct what they get wrong and never make the same mistake twice.

Gosine also urged educators and school administrators to be enablers rather and disablers.

“By this I mean we must encourage students to not just dream the impossible but achieve the impossible,” he said