Ministry of Education, Guyana

Science and Technology

The lack of students opting to study Science and Technology leads to a lack of teachers in the field, which in turn contributes to a poor quality of science education at both secondary and tertiary levels.

One school of thought holds that the differences in scientific and technological infrastructure and the popularisation of science and technology are among the most important causes of differential social and economic levels between developing and developed countries. This view is accepted by educators and stakeholders in Guyana. It is felt that rapid technological changes and changes in the structure of the economy on a local and global level require the Ministry to place considerable emphasis on Science and Technology, including Information Technology, which will be dealt with in more depth further on in the document.

The current situation is that the number of students opting to do science at the secondary level in Guyana is very small. In Biology, Chemistry and Physics the number of entries is below a thousand for each subject area while it is just over a thousand in Information Technology. The numbers taking Electronics, Mechanical Engineering Technology and Building Technology are even smaller (less than 200 in most areas). An analysis of the situation reveals that the problem begins at the primary level where science is often taught like any other subject with little practical application and there is no real effort to begin an introduction to technology. The problem is compounded by a shortage of competent teachers to deliver science and technology at both levels. The problem has become a vicious circle with small numbers at the secondary level becoming even smaller at the tertiary level. For teachers to teach successfully at the secondary level, they require a first degree in the subject discipline. Only a few persons graduate each year in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Information Technology and most of the Science graduates do not go into teaching. The result is that under-qualified teachers are required to teach these subjects in the secondary schools. At the secondary level many laboratories are not functioning and laboratory assistants/technicians are no longer appointed to schools. The Ministry has recently embarked on an emergency in-service programme to improve the qualifications of persons teaching English and Mathematics. Approximately 300 practising teachers are enrolled. The intent is to extend this initiative to Science teachers in the near future. Efforts have also been made to provide laboratories to schools that do not have them and to rehabilitate existing ones. These programmes will have to continue over the next five years.

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