news facilitate upgrade of CPCE’s science facilities

The Cyril Potter College of Education [CPCE] is poised to enhance its preparation of teachers in the subject area of science.

The way was paved in this regard with the inking of a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] between the Ministry of Education and the People’s Republic of China yesterday, which will see close to $50 million being made available to upgrade the CPCE’s science laboratory, and also to procure resources and other materials intended to teach and train teachers.

Inking the agreement for the sum of $47,782,900 that will be dispersed by the Education Ministry was Permanent Secretary of the Education Ministry, Mr. Vibert Welch, and Charge d’ Affaires/Political Counsellor of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Yang Chengi.

Senior Public Relations Officer of the Ministry, Mr. Brushell Blackman, said that the financial support from the Chinese Government resulted from a discussion President, David Granger had with the Chinese Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Cui Jianchun.

According to Blackman, during that recent discussion, the Chinese Ambassador indicated his interest in offering a gift to President Granger. To this, the President responded by asking that the gift takes the form of support to the Ministry of Education.

Speaking at the signing ceremony held at the 26 Brickdam, Georgetown office of the Ministry of Education, Permanent Secretary Welch said that the signing of the MOU is important to the Ministry for many reasons. He noted, for instance, that the MOU not only demonstrates the support of the Chinese Embassy for the Green Initiative vision of President Granger, but also communicates the commitment of the Ministry to expand and strengthen science and Information Communication Technology [ICT] capabilities of the sector, specifically at the CPCE. “This is necessary to enhance the knowledge content and skills of students who are pursuing initial teachers training at this college,” said Welch, as he explained that the CPCE offers two distinct programmes – the Associate Degree in Education and the Trained Teachers Certificate. These programmes, the Permanent Secretary explained, are offered at the Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary levels, during which all trainees are required to take courses in ICT and basic science.

Additionally, he said that at the secondary level, trainees can also specialise in, among other subject disciplines, ICT and pure sciences such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics. But Welch admitted yesterday that “it is no secret that over the years our sector has struggled with the paucity of specialised teachers in the areas of science and information technology for various reasons.”

He, however, noted that the Education Ministry has remained committed to ensuring that it encourages, attracts and retains these skills within the sector and importantly within the country.

“Today, this agreement is a demonstration of our intention to honour this commitment. Beyond the immediate benefits of this MOU to the students and teachers of the college, lies the much anticipated impact of the nurturing of thousands of young minds in our schools, from among which Guyana would have its future scientists, engineers, technologists, technicians and a host of other skills-related professionals,” said Welch.

The Chinese support, according to Welch, will be useful in wake of the discovery of oil and the potential concomitant job opportunities, and moves towards diversification and an expanded production sector.

According to Welch, there is an ever-increasing need for new and innovative technologies which will translate to a highly skilled and competitive workforce that could contribute meaningfully to the country’s economy. Moreover, he spoke of the need for the student teachers to be exposed to the resources necessary to be excellent drivers of a STEM-educated workforce.

Given the fact that the grant entails a clause that will allow the MOU to be reviewed for any purpose at anytime, Welch highlighted the possibility of some of the grant being used to stimulate research, even on a small scale. He considered the possibility of the Chinese Government facilitating a phase two grant for the purpose of research and development in the areas of science and technology.

According to Yang, who also delivered remarks yesterday, over the past four decades China has witnessed tremendous economic and social transformation – from one of the poorest countries to the second largest economy in the world. As such, he noted that China is poised to share with its developing partners, such as Guyana, that crucial to such transformation is the investment in education.

“Investment in education is an investment in the future, and it is critically important to invest in education before you start your economic take-off,” said Yang.

Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, in recognising the support from China, expressed sincere gratitude, even as she noted that it will go a long way in strengthening what is done at CPCE.

“Education is and will remain a major focus of this government…the monies will be used to procure equipment and amenities that will strengthen the science lab at the teachers training college, because we know if the teachers are well trained, if they are well prepared and they are supported, then they will be better able to deliver the content in the classroom.”