Putting a woman’s touch on education development – NCERD Director Jennifer Cumberbatch
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Jennifer Cumberbatch
Jennifer Cumberbatch

Since women have entered the mainstream work market, they have been said to bring specific qualities that have helped to reshape the landscape of business, in many a sector.
Women are better team workers, better at developing relationships and networking, and expert in seeing opportunities where others may not. Those are qualities that are particularly handy when you want to work in the education sector, and were just a few of the qualities that one leading lady has exuded much of over the years.
In the education sector in Guyana, former head teacher, and current Director of National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD), Jennifer Cumberbatch has been doing her part to put a little “woman’s touch” on things.
“Slowly but surely we are becoming a society where we recognize that women are important. One thing about education, is that we recognize that the male and female are equally important. What has happened is that more women are educated. Long ago it was more the boys who were pushed,” Cumberbatch explained.
As the NCERD Director Cumberbatch stands as a woman in one of the most pivotal position to put measures in place to transform the business of education in Guyana, something that she feels being a woman has helped to give her a bit of an edge on.
“As women we bring order, we bring organization, and we tend to look at the small things that others might not look at, and many times in an organization as big as this it’s the little things that matter. As a woman I’ve brought a lot of professionalism to the job,” Cumberbatch informed.
Cumberbatch has over 40 years in the education profession, starting out as an untrained teacher at the now defunct Cummings Lodge Primary School in 1975. She went on to become a trained teacher at the Cyril Potters College of Education, and achieve her Bachelor of Education Degree in Administration and Teaching with Distinction, and her Masters in Eduction, both from the University of Guyana.
It was at a young age, after a bad experience as a student in Grade school, that Cumberbatch was determined to be a teacher and do what she could to improve the profession.
“I always wanted to be a teacher. I want to show children that yes I can be strict, but they can learn in a better atmosphere, in love, in kindness,” Cumberbatch related.
Many would agree that she did just that during her time at Winfer Gardens Primary where she advanced from being a Senior Mistress, to the Deputy Head Mistress, to the Head Mistress. She spend over 20 years at the school.
“When I went there, there were a lot of things that wasn’t the way I liked them. The children weren’t at the place I wanted them to be, the parents did not visit the school as often I thought they should, teaching was not the level I wanted it to be at. I used to be fretting all the time,” was how Cumberbatch started out at Winfer Gardens. But being the transformational woman she was, that wouldn’t last long.
“It was my husband who said to me “but the person I know is a fighter, and would get what she wants”. And I was like let me really be the fighter, and I resolved, after the first month or so, to do the best I could. I wasn’t the head teacher but I had to try.”
She started with the teachers and worked her way down to the students, and soon Winfer Garden became a school of esteem.
“I think I was very influential to the teachers. They would come and say miss you know I never used to understand “X” but now we realise how important I am. I made them feel important to the school, because they were. If you are in an organization you are important to the organization.” She said.
Her reputation spread, and many a times Cumberbatch was offered positions from Education Officers, to Regional Education Officer (REDO), but she was reluctant to leave her beloved Winfer Gardens before the offer of NCERD Director which she took up in 2012.
The long serving educator is the holder of several awards for academic achievements including the President’s Medal (1999).

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