Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 28 July 2017 09:11

‘Not fit for man or beast’

...President says accommodation for hinterland teachers must be fixed
President David Granger has harshly criticised the accommodation of teachers in the hinterland, saying that “it is not fit for man or beast, much less young mothers…”
The President made the comments during an interactive engagement with students and staff of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) on Wednesday.news 20170728

Speaking of the challenges that teachers face on a daily basis, the President pointed out that having travelled across the 10 Administrative Regions he has seen the conditions under which teachers, particularly those stationed in the hinterland, work and live. “Eighty percent of our teachers are women and when you look at the accommodations in the hinterland, it is not fit for man or beast, much less young mothers… We want to make sure that you the teachers have a comfortable environment so that you can do what you were trained to do and that is to teach our children,” he said.
In a recent interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Education Minister, Nicolette Henry, said efforts are continually being made to remove what has been considered to be high levels of disparities between coastland and hinterland (rural) schools. She noted that many students who hail from hinterland communities, in particular, have been struggling to attain suitable marks for entry into secondary schools after completing the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA). Notwithstanding this challenge, the minister assured that her Ministry’s responsibility is to ensure that the disparity which existed prior to her administration taking office is reduced. “We have worked on an intervention at the primary level to address the gross disparities that we recognised existed in the system for a number of years,” the minister said.
An analysis and disaggregation of data relative to the NGSA results for 2016 showed that the hinterland regions performed poorly at the examinations, and this, in addition to other factors prompted the two- year-old APNU+AFC administration to call for an emergency intervention in the area of mathematics. But while the intervention targetted mathematics specifically, it should be noted that additional focus was placed on the other core areas: English, Science and Social Studies.
The study conducted will serve as a baseline and once proven effective would be expanded and replicated across the country with the hope of bridging the existing gap. “I am happy to report that the intervention bore fruit,” the minister said, and cited Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) as an example of a hinterland region where there was need for deep intervention. She explained that the problems facing the hinterland and other rural communities have to be looked at from a broad perspective where the community, parents, teachers, students and the Ministry of Education are involved, given the different levels of responsibilities. “It wasn’t just a Ministry of Education issue; it was an issue that affected us on several levels,” Henry told Guyana Chronicle at her Main Street office.
One laptop per teacher
Meanwhile, during his address to the teachers, President Granger alluded to the One Laptop per Teacher (OPLT) programme. He said he was informed that some students were not able to benefit from the initiative. He assured that the programme will continue with the aim of ensuring that every educator is equipped with a laptop, which is now a vital teaching tool in the classroom. Last December, CPCE received $1M from the Government to support science and technology at the institution. During his visit today, he made sure to make a spot check at the various laboratories, including the computer laboratory to see the condition of the equipment.
President Granger said that Guyana needs engineers and scientists in order to drive development and CPCE must be used as the vehicle to provide teachers, who will effectively impart these subjects in the school system. “Without a strong education system this country would collapse. We would be unable to develop what I think is the most beautiful, the most bountiful and the most blissful country in the entire Caribbean,” he said.
Other issues raised by students included the need for a restructuring of the curriculum, need for additional lecturers, an increase in stipend provided to students, better infrastructure at the Turkeyen facility and improved Information Technology and science laboratories and equipment. President Granger said that he will work to ensure that some of these request are catered for in the new fiscal year, noting that the Ministry is committed to improving the College within the limits of its resources.
After the meeting, the President walked around to various sections of the College to get a better idea of the needs of the institution. He was accompanied by Minister Henry, Chief Education Officer, Mr. Marcel Hutson and CPCE’s Principal, Ms. Viola Rowe. (Ministry of the Presidency)
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