— at commencement of activities for Education Month 2021
EDUCATION Month commenced on Wednesday with the Ministry of Education launching its five-year Education Sector Plan (ESP) 2021- 2025 at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal.
The strategic plan, which aims to eliminate Illiteracy, enhance tolerance and modernise education, is guided by five main priority areas, namely: improving governance and accountability; improving performance at all levels; improving the efficiency of the education system; reducing inequities in education; and contributing to life-long learning and employability.
“The five pillars of the plan, though not all completely new, effectively capture core areas demanding our sustained focus and attention over the ensuing years. They align to the Sustainable Development Goals and to the manifesto promises of the political party which was elected,” Minister of Education Priya Manickchand remarked as she delivered the feature address at Wednesday’s launch.
Education Month, which is celebrated annually in September, is being celebrated this year under the theme: “Innovative teaching and learning in a global pandemic.” Minister Manickchand noted that the ESP is intricately linked to broader national development objectives.
“Its implementation must be viewed as having deep national significance,” she said.
The minister highlighted that in the ESP implementation, sharp focus will be placed on policies and programmes that are customised within the context of [a] highly varied and multifaceted education system, requiring a “significant shift from traditional approaches to education that too often demanded conformity to standard practices across the entire education spectrum.”
“We are acutely aware of the need to both recognise and effectively address the contextual realities of our various educational environments. Our approaches must adapt to the unique demands of our complex, multilayered education context. Relevance and responsiveness must be at the forefront of our approaches,” Manickchand established.
The minister said that the ministry looks forward to translating the plans from their current theoretical state to workable practical dimensions.
“We must drill down to actionable components in a way that facilitates their effective implementation across the system, accompanied by a robust monitoring and evaluation system,” the minister said.
The plan will also work to guide Guyana’s collaboration with foreign organisations, particularly those which will play a role in assisting to fund various projects and programmes as they unfold.
“This is a sector plan being published in collaboration with all the world to make sure we are all on the same page. It is hugely important if everybody is to be on the same page and we are to march on as partners in the system,” she explained.
Crafting of the plan included contributions from several international stakeholders including UNICEF, UNESCO, CARICOM, and the World Bank.
Also making remarks at the launch were Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson; UNICEF Resident Representative, Nicolas Pron; and World Bank Senior Operations Officer, Ricardo Habalian. An overview of the plan was delivered by MoE Chief Planning Officer, Nicola Johnson.
The launch was also attended by MoE Permanent Secretary, Alfred King and several other MoE department heads.
In his remarks, Pron called the plan a very important strategy that UNICEF was happy to see coming to fruition after having played a role in its development. UNICEF now looks forward to playing its role in the implementation.
“From the conceptualisation of the plans to the final stages, UNICEF is very pleased the MoE allowed for our participation. The achievement of this final document was no easy feat. UNICEF remains committed to working side-by-side as all of us implement it together,” Pron commented.
COMPREHENSIVE AND INCLUSIVE
Habalian described the plan as one that “is not only a comprehensive plan but one that is inclusive of all learners”. Pron and Habalian delivered their remarks remotely via Zoom.
During her presentation, Johnson noted that the plan aligns with the national education aims articulated in the government’s manifesto, the CARICOM Human Development Strategy and the United Nations SDG Goal Four which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.”
“An independent appraisal certified by the Global Partnership of Education appraised this document and found it to be ‘a strong and responsive sector plan that is poised to engender transformation change in the education landscape for Guyana’,” Johnson informed attendees.
Johnson explained that the development process for the plan included widespread local consultations with key stakeholders including teachers, parents, students, education officers at the central and regional levels and ministry staff.
Meanwhile, CEO Dr. Hutson noted that the plan articulates a vision, mission and the values of the ministry, as well as provides a framework for stakeholders to work towards a common vision.
“The plan clearly delineates a vision to move the education process forward. It effectively organises the units of the MoE to work towards the achievement of a common agenda. The plan encourages commitment by showing staff that their work is essential and we are all part of a larger strategy to help our schools succeed,” Dr. Hutson remarked.
The five-year strategic plan is guided by five main priority areas, namely:
1. Improving governance and accountability;
2. Improving performance at all levels;
3. Improving efficiency of the education system;
4. Reducing inequities in education; and
5. Contributing to life-long learning and employability