Untrained public school teachers issued ‘memo’
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Education Minister Priya Manickchand
Education Minister Priya Manickchand

–instructed to enroll at the Cyril Potter College of Education to remain in the profession

UNTRAINED teachers in the public school system have been instructed to enroll at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) to remain in the profession, a ‘memo’ issued by Chief Education Officer (CEO), Dr. Marcel Hutson to Regional Education Officers (REDOs) on Friday stated.

The ‘memo’, issued by the CEO, was released by Education Minister Priya Manickchand on her Facebook page on Sunday. The ‘memo’ noted that the ministry’s objective to have all teachers trained is necessary, as it aids in the attainment of the mandate of the Ministry of Education (MoE)’s Education Sector Plan (2021 – 2025).

“We are very sure that the type of education system that we want to build out it will not have space for untrained professionals,” Minister Manickchand told the Guyana Chronicle on Sunday.

According to the ‘memo’, the measure is part of a means to improve accountability and efficiency in the classroom, improve performance at all levels, and reduce inequities in the classroom.

Failure to enroll, as advised, may result in the ministry’s inability to continue the employment of the persons so failing, the ‘memo’ said.

“We have seen some good work from untrained teachers, but anywhere in the world, a trained professional is more likely to offer a better quality of service than an untrained professional. Our position on the matter is clear, by 2024, 100 per cent of our teachers must be trained or in training. So, if teachers do not wish to register with CPCE, the system won’t have space for persons who do not receive the formal training,” Minister Manickchand explained.

The ‘memo’ also noted that the ministry has withdrawn an existing requirement that in-service teachers be employed for at least one year before being able to enter the CPCE.

Guyana currently has approximately 11,000 teachers in the public school system, of which number, approximately only 73 -75 per cent are trained. The education system, in the past 15 years, has seen the percentage of trained teachers remaining consistently in the 70s, fluctuating by three to five per cent every year.

MASSIVE INCREASE
This has continuously been attributed to a maximum enrollment capacity at the CPCE of approximately 535 entrants per year. However, this has seen a massive increase within just a few months, with the CPCE going fully Online and being able to register over 2,500 new students. Minister Manickchand noted that the capacity of the CPCE is also being built up to handle the increase in intake.

“CPCE was taking in before 535 at max, when it was face-to-face; as soon as we went Online, the intake rose to 2,800. CPCE has capacity to take in [all the untrained teachers]. Plus, we’re building out that capacity and expanding the college in many different ways, because we do recognise that the larger student population the college is going to have, which obviously requires whether Online or in-persons a larger capacity base,” the minister noted.

The government, in its 2022 budget, allocated over $500 million to CPCE to enhance its capacity to go fully Online with its teachers’ training programmes.

In January, 843, the largest batch of trained teachers, graduated from the CPCE, while the training college went fully Online from April 2021, and opened the door for the annual intake to be increased to as much as 3,000 entrants.

TAILORED
Minister Manickchand noted that the programmes offered by the CPCE have also been tailored to provide offerings that cater for all of the various types of untrained teachers in the system.
“There are teachers in the system teaching currently who are qualified to enter the college, but have not entered the college, that’s one category. Then there’s another category of teachers who are not qualified to enter the college, but they are teaching. For both categories, we want them [at CPCE], there are different types of programmes they can register for,” the minister said.

The CPCE offers programmes for persons who are desirous of pursuing a career in teaching. The programmes include a two-year Associate’s Degree in Education, with specialisations in early childhood, primary or secondary education; a three-year Trained Teacher’s Certificate; and a one-year Associate’s Degree in Education.

To enter the programmes, persons are required to have at least five subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations Grades One to Three, inclusive of Mathematics and English. However, for teachers who fall short of this criterion, there is a one-year Teacher Upgrading Programme which, when completed, enables teachers to enter the more advanced programmes.

Programmes at the college are government- funded, and teachers who successfully completed their studies are expected to serve the government for a specified contracted period at an assigned public school.

The ‘memo’ for teachers to become qualified follows an announcement by Minister Manickchand last year, where she had said that starting from 2022, teachers in Guyana will have to be licensed on an annual basis, and will need to engage in continual professional development, and satisfy other criteria to merit the renewal of their licences.

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