Ministry of Education, Guyana

The 2008-2013 Education Strategic Plan is the fourth in a series of education plans during the last two decades. It is an effort to identify the priority policies and strategies Guyana’s education system needs to pursue in order to significantly improve its quality of output and help Guyana to meet the challenges posed by globalisation and rapid technological changes.

This planning effort had the support of the Government of Guyana (GOG) and the donor community in 2002, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) gave support for the activity through an International Consultant provided through the Basic Education Access and Management Support (BEAMS) programme. Assistance was also received from the World Bank for more detailed planning on specific issues. The Planning Unit used its own regular resources from the national budget to complete the necessary activities.

School Health, Nutrition and HIV & AIDS: good health and nutrition and some essential life skills were highlighted as essential inputs and outputs of a good quality basic education. Additional training and effective monitoring were among identified needs. One of the achievements during the last plan period was the drafting of the Education sector “School Health, Nutrition, HIV and AIDS” (SHN, HIV/AIDS) policy and plan. The overarching principle that guided the drafting of both the policy and plan has been Guyana’s commitment to the achievement of Education for All. In pursuit of this, the strategic plan for SHN, HIV/AIDS has been developed in order to improve the education, health and nutrition of school children, teachers and other members of the education sector of Guyana.

In addition to its focus on the technical and vocational institutions, the plan for TVET has close links to Universal Secondary Education. Some activities have been rolled over from the 2003-2007 plan but emphasis will be given to current national priorities. The key objectives are to:

The major objective is to increase the proportion of trained teachers in the system to 70% by 2013 and to upgrade the knowledge of teachers in their specialised areas at the secondary level. This would mean training an additional 1818 teachers at an average of 364 per year over the next five years. Several policy decisions have been taken:

Appropriate activities in science and technology will be introduced to students from the earliest levels. However, the Ministry will give special emphasis in this plan to improving the number and quality of science and technology graduates from the secondary level and thereby increase the number entering these fields at post secondary level. The following actions will be undertaken:

There is a need to improve the school and classroom environment in order to contribute to the improvement of the quality of education. Specifically, areas of concern are school facilities and utilities, supervision of both hinterland and coastal regions, implementing child-friendly programmes, and absenteeism rates of both students and teachers.

A significant number of students do not reach an acceptable level of literacy as reflected in results of National Assessments.In spite of several efforts Guyana is still plagued with poor results in english and mathematics. The 2007 National Assessments for Grades 2, 4, 6 and 9 reveal that approximately 70% of each cohort fails to reach an acceptable standard in language arts (reading and english). Various factors have constrained the Ministry’s efforts to achieve its literacy objectives. There were some delays in making decisions about the material/textbooks to be used; in acquiring the material once the decisions were made; and in employing cluster advisors and master teachers to train and support the teachers in new methodologies. In general there were some questions about the effectiveness and sustainability of the proposed Cascade training model for teachers.

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. Further, disadvantaged groups of children (Amerindian/indigenous), children with disabilities, unregistered children) have greater difficulties accessing ECE.

Nearly fifty 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%). With the new emphasis on pre-literacy skills at the nursery level, the need for trained teachers is felt to be more crucial than in the past. The teachers at the nursery level also indicated that they need increased support and clear guidance in the new literacy approaches, while primary and nursery teachers and parents feel that smooth transition from nursery to primary is critical.

The use of ICT is regarded as a cross - cutting strategy for greater efficiency in Central Ministry, Education Departments and schools. It has also been highlighted as a major supportive tool in the teaching learning process at all levels of the system. Summarised below are the objectives and activities in this area.

This objective has been one of the priorities of the Government of Guyana and MOE during the last period. The country has been able to achieve what amounts to full coverage at the nursery and primary levels but secondary education only covers 78% of the relevant age cohort. The report on USE has recommended several actions considered strategic, which will be adopted in this plan.

The quality of education is still a matter of great concern when the attendance rates, number of trained teachers in the system, availability of equipment and operationalising of child-centred schools are examined.

While access, especially at the primary level, is not a major issue in Guyana, an average attendance rate of 75 percent, or less at some levels, reduces the benefits to be gained from almost universal enrolment. A similarly low average rate of attendance by teachers compounds the problem. In brief, it is possible for students to be enrolled in schools and still receive less than half the number of contact hours needed to complete the syllabus for any particular grade.

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