A GINA feature
THE education sector benefited from a large chunk of the 2011 budget, which allowed for the Ministry of Education’s programmes, policies and special initiatives to be carried out to ensure equitable and quality education, at all levels. Some of the highlights of the sector include the induction of 515 new trained teachers, implementation of special initiatives, improved remuneration packages for teachers, computerisation of secondary schools, provision of uniform assistance, meals and learning materials, and major transformation in infrastructure, thereby making the environment conducive for learning.
The sector received an allocation of $24.3B in 2011. This was an increase of $2.5B over the 2010 allocation.
Improved performances/new initiative
Government’s investments have not been in vain, since the education sector recorded increased enrollment at all levels, and improved student performance. Guyanese students achieved several of the 28 regional CSEC 2011 awards, with the overall performer award presented to Anurada Dev, while Kia Persaud was recognised as the top CAPE performer. Exceptional performances were also recorded in the technical and vocational subjects.
On December 5, a new Minister, Priya Manickchand was appointed to the ministry, and soon after she initiated a five-month project in 32 secondary schools to improve Math and English results by 20 percent nationally.
Through the programme, over 4,000 Fifth form students, who will be sitting the 2012 CSEC exams, and teachers will each be given all the resources they need to be able to succeed, such as self- study guides for CXC, a collection of revision DVDs, combined papers from 2008 to 2011, model solutions to difficult answers, a geometry set, graph paper and scientific calculator. The package for English A includes a collection of past papers, a dictionary, and combined solutions; and in specific schools, assistance will also be given for English B (Literature).
Some of the targeted schools are Abram Zuil Region 2; Stewartville and Zeeburg, Region 3; Annandale and Bladen Hall, Region 4; East Ruimveldt and Richard Ishmael in Georgetown; Bush Lot and Woodley Park primary-top, Region 5; New Amsterdam Multilateral, and Skeldon Line Path, Region 6; Three Miles, Region 7; St. Ignatius, Region 9; and Mackenzie High, and Christianburg Secondary Schools, Region 10.
Infrastructure has always been a priority for education, and in 2011, several new schools were commissioned, including the $16M ‘C’ Field Sophia Nursery, $58.3 M Parfait Harmonie and $45.8M De Hoop primary schools, $293M Leonora Secondary School, and the $427.5M Leonora Technical Institute. The $77.7M Sand Creek Secondary will be commissioned early 2012.
Work also commenced on several new schools, including a primary school in the Diamond/Grove community, and one at Two Miles, Region 7. Another secondary school is slated to be built at Jawalla, Region 7, to ease the pressure, particularly at the Waramadong secondary.
The Education Ministry, along with the World Bank, officially launched a US$5.12M Guyana Improving Teacher Education Project (GITEP), to boost the effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of quality teacher education in Guyana. Through the programme, teacher educators are given the chance to improve their qualifications to the Master’s level.
To continue equipping schools with trained personnel, more emphasis was on training, as a result, 515 newly trained teachers brought the ministry closer to attaining its goal of having 70 percent trained teachers by 2013.
Teachers already in the system were given the opportunity to receive professional upgrades via programmes facilitated by the National Centre for Education Resource Development, particularly the Non-Graduate and Continuous Development programmes.
To ensure the delivery of education in the hinterland, the ministry dispatched 65 youths to hinterland communities through its teacher’s volunteer programme. Following their one – year tenure, they will be given the opportunity to pursue training at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) to become professional teachers.
The Ministry rejuvenated its student councils and the mentoring programmes at the secondary level in an effort to boost student involvement while improving their outlook on life. Through these programmes, students are empowered to effectively represent their peers, share ideas and interests, promote a healthy self-esteem, explore the nature of relationships, and foster the development of positive values, attitudes and behaviours.
While strides were made towards getting students more involved in their education, the Education Ministry maintained its call for increased parental participation in terms of supporting teachers, the school and their children, while at home.
The Schools’ Welfare Department continued the execution of its responsibilities by carrying out truancy campaigns, reintegrating students into the school system, visiting homes and educating the public about its role and the law pertaining to children’s education. Guidance and counselling services were offered to those who were in need.
To ensure that all schools are safe and secure, the Education Ministry advanced the safe and welcoming school protocol, a document which addresses all matters of security in nursery, primary and secondary schools.
Meanwhile, the ministry continued to aid students through the uniform assistance and school feeding programmes, which received an allocation of $300M and $1B respectively, in 2011, for the benefit of thousands of school-aged children.
These programmes, which target both coastal and hinterland communities, have brought about noted increases in school attendance, punctuality, retention and improved performance.
One of the projects the ministry undertook with zest was the computerization of the 110 secondary schools countrywide. The sum of $223M was allocated for the procurement of 1400 computer systems and accessories for the schools’ computer labs. More than 70 labs were completed.
Primary schools were not left out of the ICT drive, since the ministry implemented the Success Maker, computerized software that aids learning.
Funding was also provided for the launch of the Guyana Learning Channel, an educational network intended for countrywide coverage, reaching all communities in Guyana, with formal and informal educational information programming.
UG, SCCP graduation
The University of Guyana’s 45th convocation produced 1400 graduates, and for the first time persons graduated in the fields of Dental Surgery and Science and Pharmacy at the degree level, and Orthopaedic and Traumatology at the post-graduate level.
Meanwhile, 764 secondary students graduated from the Secondary Competency Certificate Programme (SCCP), an alternative path for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes for further training and the world of work.
The Education Ministry is on the path to improving learning outcomes through the inculcation of knowledge and competencies, so that students across Guyana can continue their education, training, skills acquisition, promotion of values, attitudes and skills that enable active participation in society.