Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 16 January 2015 14:34

Needful resources must be complemented by well trained teachers – Manickchand

Priya-Manickchand-aEven with the necessary resources being available, the efficacy of the school system in producing literate children may not be realized without those in the school system fully understanding the importance of literacy.

This notion was amplified recently by Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, at a press conference.
The issue of literacy has been one to which the Education Ministry has been directing increased attention in recent years.
In fact as part of its observance of Education Month (September last), which was held under the theme “Literate by Grade Four through consistent home, school and community involvement,” the Ministry introduced an ambitious literacy programme that will help guide the way forward in the literacy process. This strategic move was one that saw the Ministry revealing plans to place literacy materials at schools across the country.
But while it might very well be too early to determine whether this effort has significantly impacted the system, the Minister said that the materials cannot work in isolation.
“Putting the resources in the schools is not going to do it alone, we have to change the way we see the importance of literacy. We have to change, in my view, how we train teachers to deliver on the literacy programme, we have to monitor persons,” said Manickchand as she went on to underscore that a huge part of the Ministry’s Education Sector Plan is accountability.
According to her, the intention is to ensure that the teaching plans are carried out in the schools. The Minister made this point as she recalled visiting at least two schools where literacy materials were intended for but had not yet arrived at the time of the Minister’s visit.
“We have procured it but nobody is able to tell me why the books weren’t there…We should have a system where people, the Regional Administration, the Regional Education Officer and so on, know that these books need to get there.”
The Minister in sharing her concern insisted that “getting (books) in there two terms after the year begins is a waste of time so those are some of the challenges we have.”
She added that it has been observed that when too many people have responsibility for a particular issue some actually do not participate, which represents yet another challenge.
The need to closely monitor the operation of the school system was one that was recently highlighted by former Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar. He informed that one of the main weaknesses facing the education sector is that of leadership at the level of the schools.
Caesar, who was tasked with delivering the charge to the most recent graduating batch of students from the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), said that the very institution (CPCE) has an important role to play in developing the leadership ability in teachers.
However, the College’s effort, according to him, cannot impact the general school system noticeably unless the leadership deficiencies at the school level are corrected.
Caesar said that teacher leadership of quality must be a feature that must be indispensable.
Moreover, he noted that teacher leadership cannot succeed if teachers who are selected as leaders are not viewed by their peers as more effective and as having the knowledge and skills to help others. For this reason, he intimated that clinical supervision and appraisal must be professionally addressed and record keeping must take centre-stage.
Caesar in continuing his deliberation even stressed the need for the Ministry of Education to sustain efforts at attracting high performing teachers to low performing schools. But according to him, “this must not however be by any means of coercion; the right foundation should be established.”
He said that such teachers should gain support in the areas of technology and networking relationships, even as the heads of such schools should be committed to participating management and shared leadership and compensation package should be discussed and formalised with involvement from the Union.
Caesar noted that the Education Ministry with the support of the Union must ensure that there is a role for teachers in leadership policy decisions in affecting their practice.
“A key tenet of professional work is that practitioners are viewed as the expert problem solvers in their field,” said Caesar. He therefore amplified the need for well defined roles for teachers to lead at the policy level where they can solve the problems of the profession beyond the classroom world.

Source: Kaieteur News

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