Ministry of Education, Guyana

Universal Secondary Education

Quality is a major concern as well as increasing access at this level. Priority issues are: poor quality of primary graduates entering secondary schools; poor retention of students especially males; poorer quality of education in Primary Tops and Community High Schools; low performance in Mathematics and English; a high proportion of untrained teachers and a need for more specialist teachers; a high level of student and teacher absenteeism and the need for upgraded physical facilities.

Guyana, in common with other CARICOM countries, embarked on a policy of Universal Secondary Education (USE) more than five years ago. Generally the strategy was to improve the quality of education offered at this level by amalgamating Secondary Departments (SD) of Primary schools/Primary Tops (Grades 7 to 9) and Community High Schools (CHS) into General Secondary Schools (GSS) in which all students could present for the Caribbean Examination Certificate (CXC) or an alternative competency-based Certificate. The reason for the change was that that each type of school followed a different programme for different time periods (3 to 5 years), and the education programmes offered at the Secondary Departments and CHS were regarded as lower in quality when compared with that offered at GSS. Among the expected outcomes was that 40% of secondary school leavers should achieve Grades 1 to 3 proficiency in five subjects at one sitting. In 2007 the MOE, with assistance from the World Bank, commissioned a critical analysis of the policies and plans for achieving secondary education goals, the development of a simulation model to estimate the costs of major alternative policy options and the provision of recommendations to GOG for the finalisation of secondary education policy for Guyana.

The report presents nine key findings. In the first two the view is posited that quality primary education outcomes are the basis for achieving USE. Essentially it is felt that Grade 6 completion rates, primary school attendance and the Secondary School Entrance Examination results determine the demand for secondary education. There is poor transition from primary to secondary across all regions but it appears to be greater for boys in Georgetown and Region 4. The report also highlights the disparity between results of hinterland and coastal rural regions and coastal urban regions; the former having much lower averages in Mathematics and English. Secondary grade repetition, especially of males in Grade 7 remains high (14.4% males, 8.8% females in 2005). The report points out that “Hinterland Grade 7 repetition rate (17.6%) and Coastal urban repetition (18.3%) are different phenomena but each threatens the viability of secondary education”. In general, retention of students from Grades 7 through 11 is too low. Overall only 38% of Grade 7 students from 2001/2002 were still present in Grade 11 in 2005/2006. More disturbing is the fact that male retention was 31.5% compared with 45.6% for girls.

 TABLE 1 – Secondary School – Dropout Rates by Level and Sex Secondary School Drop-Outs by Education District and Sex

Education District   2004 - 2005

2005 - 2006 2006 - 2007
   Number of Drop-outs % Drop-Out Rate  Number of Drop-outs % Drop-Out Rate Number of Drop-outs % Drop-Out Rate
 Male  Female Total Male Female Male Female Total Male Female Male Female Total Male Female
 Region 1  119 126  245 26.67  20.67  59  43  102  3.00  2.67  17  21  38  0.87 1.27 
Region 2 248 158 406 13.33  10.67  95  85  181 9.33   12.33  185  189  374  4.63  4.70
Region 3 309 275 584 8.67  8.33  249  252  501  4.33  4.33 497   345  842  14.33  12.63
Region 4 868 625 1493 19.33  17.33  814  694 1508   18.33  17.33  673  663  13.36  16.30  16.33
Georgetown 728 775 1503 4.33  5.00  796  648  1444  5.00  4.00  606  721 1327 3.73  4.00 
Region 5  133 197 330 4.67  5.67  196  217  413  6.67  8.00  211  143  354  6.20  5.83
Region 6 476 648 1124 17.33  28.00  633  540  1173  7.67  8.33  511  518  1029  20.10  19.90
Region 7 69 45 114 6.33  3.67  32  40  72  3.33  4.00  81  66  147  8.60  5.23
Region 8  47 59 106 8.00  12.00  54  38  92  8.00  6.33  41  63  104  6.50  8.00
Region 9  33 32 65 1.33  1.33  170  161  331  7.67  7.67  141 130   271  8.87  7.07
Region 10 18 16 24 3.00  1.33  3  2  5  0.33  0.33  83  56  139  5.35  2.97
Total 3048 2946 5994 12.00  3102 3102  2720  5822  10.67  10.33  3046  2915  5961  9.25  9.10

The report also highlights low student attendance rates especially in Secondary Departments of primary schools and CHS (60%).

The other key findings focus on the quality of teachers at this level, the range of subjects offered and on CXC results. The proportion of trained teachers is too low and very unevenly distributed. The problem is compounded by the loss of trained teachers, especially trained graduates, and their replacement by untrained persons. The report also highlights poor CXC outcomes in English Language and in Mathematics and the fact that the number of students achieving 5 subjects (Grades 1-3) is less than half the planned outcome.

Many of the issues documented in the report were also expressed by persons in the regional consultations. The drop-out rate of boys was a matter of particular concern, which many felt was partially due to the inability of many of the secondary institutions to offer a programme that would capture their interest. The lack of technical facilities in the CHS and SD of primary schools was also highlighted.

There has been some progress in the last five years in achieving some of the objectives set in the 2003 Plan, especially in the conversion of CHS and, to a lesser extent, the amalgamation of SDs. The BEAMS and GEAP projects provided over 5000 new places in GSS so the proportion of students in this type of school increased by over 15% while the proportion in SD and CHS declined. There has also been some work done on the review of curriculum and a policy document on secondary education has been prepared by senior education managers. There are still unattained objectives. In many cases conversion of schools has not been done according to the
recommendations outlined in two previous secondary projects (GEAP and SSRP) and the result has simply been a change in name without any real change in the programme offered to students. In particular, the policies and strategies for the alternative pathway have been piloted in some schools but there is need for additional training of teachers for the new programme and the relevant equipment and supplies need to be available in a timely manner.

Last modified on Monday, 22 April 2013 11:06
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