Teachers launch forum to help improve education system
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Wil Campbell
Wil Campbell

ONE year ago when Guyana’s education system was hit by school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Amsterdam Modern Language teacher Monix Hetemyer, created The Teachers’ Initiative Online Programme whereby she helped parents to navigate the process of homeschooling while students were at home.

The initiative gained almost 1200 followers on its Facebook page, and has helped hundreds of students. However, with school now scheduled to reopen in September 2021, Hetemyer decided to

Monix Hetemyer

restructure the programme to make the initiative a permanent feature.

Hetemyer has teamed up with a number of other educators to launch The Teachers’ Initiative Forum (TTIF), which is geared towards finding solutions to education issues, facilitating training/workshops for teachers and students, as well as pursuing community projects centred on education. She hopes that other teachers will look forward to getting on board.

“Ultimately, our essential goal is to create positive and rippling changes in our education system. We also envision ourselves collaborating with the Ministry of Education on various projects,” Hetemeyer shared in a recent interview with the Guyana Chronicle.

The initiative is being managed by a core group of nine secondary school teachers, along with two advisers, namely local psychologist and University of Guyana (UG) lecturer Wil Campbell, and Dr. Tamarind Delisser who is also a UG lecturer.

“We are in the initial stages, so it is really a process of building a team with the right people. We are a group of enthused brilliant and driven educators that are striving towards building a better education system for all stakeholders involved: educators, students and parents,” Hetemyer commented.

The teachers involved in the initiative are Daniel Jacobs, of the New Amsterdam Multilateral; Feona Jones, of Ann’s Grove Secondary; Jessica Sam of Buxton Secondary; Delney Swavin and Sarafina Burrowes-Henry of the North Ruimvelt Multilateral; Roneisha Harvey of Bladen Hall Multilateral and Jared McPhoy of Annandale Secondary. They are joined by Rosemarie Ramitt who teaches at the Ministry of Education’s Resource Unit for the Blind.

Other teachers interested in the initiative can also get on board.

“There is no fee for joining the group. If you are an educator and your desire is for better education and opportunities in education, then we welcome you,” she said.

As the initiative continues to grow, the group will consider establishing regional representatives, and other sub-units across the country.

Campbell later explained that he sees the initiative developing into the local equivalent of the American Association of Educators in the United States of America (USA) , or the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in the United Kingdom (UK).

“When I was asked to serve as an adviser to TTIF, I counted it a privilege and an opportunity.
I have worked in different school systems abroad and one of the most enriching experiences being a professional is being able to interface with other professionals in the field who can share different experiences, perspectives and ideas in a structured way,” Campbell commented.

The initiative already has a student portal on our page with over 800 students who utilise the multiple resources which are posted to help the students. The programme also hosts monthly Zoom sessions for the students, and has started “The Inspiration Corner,” where educators from all over the country are featured.

The Zoom sessions are geared towards creating a space for students to deal with issues that affect them.

“We have already looked at topics such as, Maintaining your Mental Health during Covid-19 and A Discussion on Depression and Body Image. These sessions seem to be a great help to our students. We also have various other projects in the works,” Hetemyer explained.

Hetemyer, who is also a part-time UG lecturer, has been in the teaching profession for over 12 years .

“Teaching was actually a profession I stumbled into. It was not a deliberate decision, but I have grown to love it and I am 100 percent certain that I am doing what I was meant to. My love for teaching stems from seeing my kids grow into agents of change. Seeing my kids use the knowledge they have learnt to positively apply it to the world around them is such a joy. I am truly passionate about teaching and am willing to help anyone who is desirous of learning,” she said.

“My area of expertise is in the teaching of Spanish. I am also skilled in the area of group interaction and classroom management. I have efficiently functioned in administrative positions and therefore possess leadership and management skills,” she added.

Hetemyer decided to get others on board after realising the potential her programme had to now reach even more students.

“I understand how important collaboration is, so I reached out to some of my colleagues for us to manage the page as a group,” she explained.

The forum operates with the motto: “Changing Lives, Communities and the World through Transformative Education.”

“This represents the core of what we stand for. Education should not just be the dispersing of knowledge, it should be transformative which means that as we teach, we ought to see our students use that knowledge to create tangible changes in the world around them,” she said.

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