Ministry of Education, Guyana

Monday, 06 February 2017 14:22

GESIP - Legal and Institutional Framework Applicable to Indigenous Peoples and Education

The project is not in conflict with any legislative or policy framework arrangements and is supplementary to and supportive to the educational goals and aspirations of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana.

Enshrined in the Constitution to the cooperative republic of Guyana, is the following Preamble, “We the Guyanese people value the special place in our nation of the Indigenous peoples and recognize their right as citizens to land and security and to their promulgation of policies for their communities.” Also, the preamble speaks about acknowledging the aspirations of young people and providing opportunities to people of all races in harmony and peace.

The legal and institutional framework applicable to Indigenous Peoples in Guyana is governed by the Amerindian Act 2006. The Act provides “for recognition and protection of the collective rights of Amerindian Villages and Communities, the granting of land to Amerindian Villages and Communities and the promotion of good governance within Amerindian Villages and Communities”. Among other things it lays out the Governance structure, composition, function and power of the Village Councils and mandate/duties of the Toshao as village representative. The Act further established the National Toshao Council (NTC). Additionally the Amerindian Act 2006 established the inalienability of village lands and the allocation and lease of lands to residents.

 

While there is no explicit policy that addresses any special education programme for Indigenous children in Guyana, the Ministry of Education Guyana Strategic Plan 2014 – 2018 urge to “focus on increasing the learning achievements at all levels of education and for all subgroups and decreasing the differences in learning outcomes between sub-groups, especially between students in coastal and hinterland schools.”

The Strategic Plan recognized the accomplishments under the 2008-2013 strategy and reinforced the policies and programs that improve the learning outcomes and education quality in costal and hinterland regions, which include, (1) Increase provision of nursery places, especially in remote hinterland regions; (2) Improving Literacy and Numeracy learning outcomes at Primary Level; (3) Improving sanitary facilities and providing basic utilities such as water and a source of power to hinterland and riverine schools; (4) Universal Secondary Education all over the nation; (5) Creating Education Television Channel touches all regions including remote hinterland area.

Amerindian Lands Commission Act
The Amerindian Lands Commission Act of May 1966 was charged with, among other functions, the following;

  1. To determine the areas of Guyana where any tribe or community of Amerindians was ordinarily resident or settled on the relevant date including, in case of Amerindian Districts, Areas or Villages within the meaning the meaning of the Amerindian Act, the part, if any, of such District, Area or Village where any tribe or community of Amerindians was originally resident or settled on the relevant date, and to identify every such tribe or community with as much particularity as is practicable.
  2. To recommend, with respect to each such tribe or community of Amerindians, whether persons belonging to such tribes or community shall be given rights of tenure with respect to the areas of residence or settlement determined under paragraph (1) above or with respect to such other areas as the Commission may specify, being areas in relation to which such rights of tenure would be no less favorable to such persons that similar rights held in relation to the areas determined as aforesaid.

In 1995, the Government of Guyana, in an attempt to address Indigenous land claims formulated a policy, after consultation with Toshaos, to demarcate existing seventy four (74) legally recognized (titled) Indigenous communities and address extensions of titled communities and requests for titles by those communities without legally recognized lands (Ministry of Indigenous Affairs website).

As part of the process for enacting the Amerindian Act 2006, the Government decided to include a comprehensive procedure and criteria to address Indigenous land claims. These are outlined in Part VI of the Amerindian Act No. 6 of 2006. Unlike many other countries that require Indigenous people to show their ancestral connection with the particular piece of land being claimed, the communities in Guyana requesting titled lands are only required to show their use and occupation of the land being requested for at least 25 years and secondly the population must be at least one hundred and fifty (150) persons for the five (5) years preceding the application.

The icon Education Act - Cap 3901 (66.16 kB) speaks about education of Guyanese children generally and outlines the functions of the Education Department as well as provisions for enforcing education of children. The Education Strategic Plan of Guyana places special focus on Indigenous children. There is a significant proportion of untrained nursery and primary teachers. This is of special concern in the light of the implementation of new literacy approaches. Indigenous children have even greater difficulties accessing Early Childhood Education (ECE). Approximately thirty percent of the teachers at nursery level are still untrained and the proportion of untrained teachers is much greater in remote hinterland and riverain areas (72%). One very significant issue is the fact that although the gross enrolment ratio at the nursery level is about eighty percent, the most vulnerable groups are not being captured. These include children in 23 remote communities, where a majority of the population is indigenous. (In Region 1, for example, there are 42 villages with primary schools but there are only 21 nursery schools/classes in the Region).

Since the recognition of the Universal Secondary Education (USE), all secondary age students in the hinterland are able to take advantage of secondary education. MOE is working to establish a system that provides access to all the population of the relevant age cohort according to specific regional characteristics and needs, and regional differences in quality (between hinterland, rural/coastal and urban/coastal regions) must be reduced. The plan also focuses on broadening the scope of curriculum to include areas such as the arts, sports and physical education and culture-specific skills in Indigenous communities. These inclusions would make attendance to schools more attractive to young persons and as such contribute to lowering the drop-out rate and increasing attendance

The Plan emphasizes the importance of partnering with relevant agencies that impact education in Guyana, including the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development is also closely related to the schools and the delivery of education in the regions. Representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, Indigenous Affairs, Health and Local Government sit on the MOE’s School Feeding Committee and have given invaluable support to the Community-based School Feeding Programme.

Click to download the entire pproject plan in pdf: icon FINAL - Indigenous People Plan - GESIP P159519, February 6, 2017 (716.73 kB 2017-02-06 17:30:35)

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