Ministry of Education, Guyana

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013 13:45

The Need for Dormitory Accommodation Facilities in Riverain Communities

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TENTH PARLIAMENT OF GUYANA – FIRST SESSION (2012)

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

NOTICE PAPER NO. 137

Question

Member Asking: Ms Amna Ally, M.P., Chief Whip

Minister Answering: The Minister of Education


QUESTION

DORMITORY ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES

Could the Hon. Minister:-
(i) Identify the areas where there is need for dormitory accommodation facilities particularly in the riverain communities?

(ii) State how soon Government will put in place facilities where these are absent?

(Notice Paper No.137 (Q 79 Opp. 78) published on 2013-01-31)

Answer

The Ministry, certainly the Planning Unit, believes that the minimum viable size for a secondary school in Guyana is an enrolment of about 250 students. It is not cost efficient or quality effective to have a secondary school that is smaller than that. Indeed the recommendation in reports from several consultants, the Howes report 2007 being the most recent, is that an enrolment of even 250 is too small for a secondary school. The intent is to provide equitable access the Ministry to secondary education, hence is aiming at offering the full range of technical, science and general academic subjects offered by any of the Grade A schools. With small numbers there are times when these facilities are underutilized, or not utilized at all, depending on students’ choices. More crucial is that a proliferation of small schools worsens the shortage of trained teachers in some subject areas e.g. Mathematics, Science, IT and some other technical subject areas. Educators also feel that there are benefits which are gained when the school is large enough to employ more than one teacher in a subject area. It is felt that quality improves when there is interaction /collaboration/consultation among colleagues teaching the same subject. This of course is not possible in a single stream school (i.e. one n which there is only one class for each grade).

The above explanation should help to explain why the Ministry does not construct a secondary school in almost every village as is the case at the primary level. Where the potential school population is too small, as is the case in most hinterland and deep riverain communities, the Ministry will build a school to serve several communities, and because some of these communities are quite distant from the location of the schools it may not be practicable for the children to travel every day so residential facilities are provided. It should be noted that in general residential facilities are an expensive option and sometimes not the most desired option by parents and wherever possible regions exercise the option of providing transportation for those students who can travel every day.

Present situation

All secondary schools in hinterland Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9 have dormitories attached to them. There are 12 schools in these regions at the present time and later there will be another secondary school, with the construction of the school and dormitory facilities at Kato in Region 8.

There are also residential facilities in Regions 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 which serve riverain communities.

In Region 2 there are dormitories at Anna Regina Secondary, Charity Secondary and at Wakapoa. In light of what was said above the Ministry does not envisage the need for an additional school at this time. There may be a need eventually to expand the facilities at the existing schools.

There is no existing residential facility in Region 3 at this time but there is a proposal to construct a dormitory at Parika Salem to cater for students from communities in the Essequibo river area e.g. Caria Caria Caria, Great Troolie Island, Western Hogg Island, Northern Hogg Island, Fort Island, Aliki, Lanaballi, Saxacalli, Upper and Lower Bonasika. There are of course students in riverain areas of 3 and 4 who can access Dora Secondary and Friendship Secondary on a daily basis.

President’s College in Region 4 is a special situation in that it caters for students from all regions who qualify for placement at the school and it provides residential facilities for those who live far from the school. Some of these students are from riverain communities. Originally St. Cuthbert’s in riverain 4 had a dormitory but as numbers from other communities declined this service was no longer needed.

In Region 5 there are no residential facilities attached to a specific school but there is a hostel at Mahaicony, under Ministry of Amerindian Affairs which caters for students from the riverain communities (Karamat, Esau and Jacob, Gordon Table and Maraikobai who are placed at Bygeval, Mahacony and Belladrum Secondary Schools. This residential facility was expanded in 2009 to cater for 55 students but the trend in enrolment suggests that there may be need to cater for about 20 more. There is however an alternative suggestion from the region which is to procure a boat and transport students from daily from some of the villages mentioned above.

In Region 6 there is a hostel in Springlands which caters for students from Orealla and Siparuta. Recently a hostel has also been constructed at Orealla to cater for students from Siparuta who attend the Secondary department of Orealla Primary school. Students coming from Canje Creek, Berbice river and Upper East Bank Berbice river usually have to find accommodation in the New Amsterdam area. Some thought has been given to the construction of a dormitory in the New Amsterdam area to cater for some of these students but a full analysis of the potential need still needs to be firmly established.

In Region 10 there is a hostel managed by the Regional Administration and one at Kwakwani which comes more specifically under the Regional Education Department. These are adequate for the number of residential students at this time. In fact the Kwakwani facility is underutilized because some parents are not comfortable with their children in dormitory facilities.


Date Received: 2013-01-22

Date For Order Paper: 2013-02-22


Submitted by Hon. Priya Manickchand MP
March, 2013

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