THE Ministry of Education is predicting a better retention rate in schools with the slew of measures being implemented to address absenteeism.
Retention rate is a measure of the proportion of students who continue their studies after their first year.
Subject Minister Priya Manickchand made the recent disclosure during an interview on the Guyana Dialogue
She said when the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant programme was reinstated, the number of students attending classes improved and more students were registered in the public education system.
“You (a student) have to be on the register and attending school, so, if you don’t come to school, then you don’t get the grant. That has really brought people out and had people registering. We have also seen with other efforts to try to look for children individually who are being absent from schools,” she pointed out.
Also, ‘Operation Recovery’ was piloted initially within the 11 education districts to find primary school pupils who were absent since schools reopened fully and those who missed the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) mock examinations.
The programme was expanded to place a heavy focus on students at all levels who continue to be absent from the classrooms.
Minister Manickchand explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the education sector in two fundamental ways: loss of instructional time and learning loss due to schools being closed for over 18 months; as such, this measure was undertaken.
“I think we’ve tried to hold our own and we have held on our own on the dropouts issue but that’s a lot of work that went into that,” the minister expressed.
Currently, the education ministry has hired personnel in 80 of the 116 high schools across Guyana who are responsible for informing the ministry when a child is absent from the classrooms. This, she said, is expected to improve the retention rate in Guyana.
“We’re hiring where we don’t have staff dedicated to counselling, guidance in career counselling as well as psychological counselling. As soon as the child leaves, we’re supposed to know,” the education minister explained.