A COMMISSION of Inquiry (COI) has been set up by the Ministry of Education to bring it up-to-date with the state of the current education system.The COI will also determine what is lacking and recommend measures that could be implemented to improve the education sector for persons countrywide.
The COI into education includes teachers, education officials, citizens from across the country and experts in various fields.
Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, speaking last Sunday at the 6th international St. Rose’s High School Reunion, said that the COI is expected to conclude its hearings this month.
He noted also that while the cadre of experts have provided reports to him, he is not quite satisfied because he is yet to see reports that lay out an implementable action plan.
ACROSS POLITICAL PARTIES
He said that over the next five years he wishes to mobilise across political parties to come together, work together to craft strategies and make advances in the interest of the people. “Education is not something we need to fight over.”
“A solid education system benefits everyone. Education is the foundation of what we do and what we will do,” he stated, adding that he has been able to draw on relationships established with his predecessor, Priya Manickchand and other former Ministers of Education.
Meanwhile, Dr. Roopnaraine continues to solicit the involvement of all Guyanese at home and abroad in the reformation of the education system as he believes that through partnerships the solid educational foundation that is needed for the development of this country can be realised.
As he turned his attention to the state of the education system, he said that as the new minister, he needed to know more about what had happened to an education system that was once the pride of the Caribbean and further afield.
He explained that he is not by any means trying to say that the system has collapsed or it is not well equipped with experts, a cadre of dedicated teachers and willing students, but he needs to find out more about what has been happening across the country, not just in Georgetown.
To this end, the minister highlighted some plans that are critical to ascertaining the evidence needed to inform policies. He stated that as a matter of importance, he needs to know what obtains at each and every school across the country, what their needs are, and the audits have begun. He said that the audit team will be conducting an “environmental audit of each and every school.”
Dr. Roopnaraine said that the audit is critical to the implementation of strong evidence-based national policies.
INVITATION TO GTU
The minister has extended an invitation to the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) to participate in the development of policies. “I do not want teachers to believe that they are robots in a classroom, which we send there to execute policy that had nothing to do with making,” he said.
The GTU was invited to appoint a working committee to regularly meet with the Ministry of Education so that together policies can be created.
Dr. Roopnaraine said, “We want the parents, the teachers, the union, and the students to be fully engaged in the reform Equal Educational Opportunities for Hinterland. We have a very uneven development in Guyana. We have had a heavy concentration of investment in Georgetown and the coast and consequent neglect in the hinterland.”
Referencing to the challenge of finding educators to take up assignments to work in hinterland communities, Dr. Roopnaraine posited that without the fullest development of all resources, the country is not going to move forward.
He has, however, assured the people of hinterland regions that as the Minister of Education his attention would be no less attentive than his attention to that which surrounds him immediately in the city.
Since assuming office, the Education Minister has underscored his desire to see the education system develop more rounded students, students who are academically inclined but also have been exposed to sports, music and other extra-curricular activities. Citing the number of subjects students sit at CXC and the extra pressure placed on younger children to attend extra lessons, he said that, “Education is not about quantity; it is first and foremost about quality.”
WORKSHOPS FOR TEACHERS
Over the upcoming vacation period, the Ministry of Education will be hosting two special workshops for teachers: the first will focus on the reintroduction of music into schools across the country and the second workshop will address sports.
Dr. Roopnaraine believes that reading, literacy, and numeracy are better imparted, better implanted, and better digested if parents and educators can make a connection between what they are attempting to teach the child and what the child is interested in.
By Navendra Seoraj