Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 20 February 2015 00:00

Education is key to a nation’s development – President reiterates at launch of MoE Atlantic Reader books for primary age children

The Ministry of Education yesterday launched the Atlantic Reader Books 1, 2 and 3 at the Port Mourant Primary School in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).Delivering the feature address at the event, President Donald Ramotar congratulated the Ministry’s team for the initiative which he said should be seen as a beginning for much more to come, in the line of locally produced literature for schools.

Noting the importance of this enterprise, the President said he was forced to raise the issue of affordable text books for school children at the United Nations (UN) level with the aim of addressing the issue of intellectual property rights.

“…While countries pay lip service to the importance of education, in many cases we in the third world are at a disadvantage because when we buy books we have to pay extraordinarily high prices because of the issue of intellectual property rights.”

During a recent United Nations forum, President Ramotar said he took the opportunity to point out that if the UN is serious about ensuring that there is an educated world, then the issue of intellectual property rights must be looked at forthwith, so that developing countries can have the books that are necessary to give students a good start in life.

“We have made a first step, and I’m extremely happy and proud, and we have much more work to do in bringing out more texts for our children so that we can serve more of our people.”

The Head of State added that the world at large has long ago recognised the importance of education, not only for the personal benefits that it brings to an individual, but also to a country as a whole.

“It is important in the development of any country that the people of that country should be educated. And as such, this Government has been investing in its people,” the President told the large gathering. “Investing in education is important for both the economic and social development of a country,” he added.

Education – important ingredient for development

Reiterating the importance of education in nation building, President Ramotar said this goes directly to the PPP/C’s philosophy, which is that education is the most important factor for development.

In reinforcing his point, the President made reference to countries which have booming economies, but have little or no natural resources, and cited Japan as an excellent example where that country has little natural resources but is the third largest economy in the world because “it has a highly educated work force that attracts investment and people who are innovative enough spend time to create their own investment, and therefore investing in education is very important for the whole economic and social development of our society.”

He added that it is for this reason the current administration has been focusing heavily on the social sector, more importantly the education sector that has benefited from numerous interventions.

Already he noted that these interventions are bearing fruit as a recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank ‘At Risk Youth – An urgent Challenge for the Caribbean’, has indicated that Guyana’s dropout rates have been pleasing and on the decline.

The report also shows that in the last 20 years, Guyana has reduced the proportion of children dropping out at the general secondary level by more than 75%.

“It’s the combination of all the measures we have been using that has allowed us to be the top country in South America and the Caribbean to keep our children in school,” the President stated.

He noted that another very positive development that augurs well for the future is “we are the top country in the whole region in enrolment in nursery education, and that I expect will give our children an advantage as they go forward and into their own educational life and career paths.”

The Head of State further congratulated the Education Ministry’s officials for the excellent work they have been doing in the sector and encouraged them to continue in their efforts.

President Ramotar also encouraged the children at the function to take their education seriously, while he urged parents to keep abreast of what their children are doing in school.

Speaking of which, he made the point that Guyana is the only country in the Region to have succeeded in keeping its children in school, and to have the highest number of registered nursery-aged children.

He concluded by saying that it is the Government’s mandate “to ensure that no child would be disadvantaged, but will have an opportunity to be able to achieve their full potential.”

Education Minister Ms Priya Manickchand, in an impassioned speech, spoke of how fortunate Guyanese are to have a leader who is recognised worldwide for championing the cause of education. She was referring to the fact that President Ramotar sits on a global forum called the Education First Initative that was set up by the United Nations Secretary General, which champions the cause for education.

This body, she pointed out, deals with issues that affect the education sector worldwide with the aim of coming up with tangible solutions.

Minister Manickchand said she was extremely pleased that the launch of the books will address something specific and short-term to the primary education sector, as it will eventually benefit all school age children and the nation at large.

“We have 441 primary schools and we have unique challenges, and we have been able to craft unique solutions and this has caused us to be recognised worldwide as a country that is doing progressively better in the education sector.”

The Education Minister also used the opportunity to warn against those who will always find fault with the achievements in spite of all that has been achieved.

It is for this reason the education sector, she said, should be looked at from a holistic point, as she called on Guyanese to reflect on where the sector has come from and where it is today. Currently the education sector receives 15% of the national budget.

The Minister also lauded the team that worked on the books as its members defied the odds. She noted it will serve its purpose as the initiative serves to showcase local talents, while at the same time cutting cost of purchasing books from foreign countries.

The team of writers took nine months to put together the Atlantic Readers that are culturally relevant.

She noted that in the future the Ministry would look at the possibility of moving into the Caribbean with these child friendly publications. She further called on parents and teachers to play their part in assisting their children in using the books for their benefit.

Within nine months, a team of Guyanese wrote and published the Readers so as to achieve the Ministry’s aim to have all children literate by Grade 4, Marcel Hutson, Assistant Chief Education Officer (Primary) explained.

Regional Chairman for Region 6, Permaul Armogan explained the importance of reading, and the ability to read. He mentioned that this launch is taking place at a school that the late Former President, Dr Cheddi Jagan had attended; an opportunity not many were afforded at the time.

As such, Armogan said, education became a priority for Dr Jagan and successive Presidents in the PPP/C administration since 1992.

“Reading helps to improve all aspects of life,” he said. He applauded the ministry on this initiative as it will greatly assist the children and parents as well.

Speaking in her capacity as a parent, Quenita Waldron, Parent and Early Childhood Development Consultant, explained that the manner in which the books are written will greatly benefit the children and make them more confident with their reading. She thanked the Government and the Education Ministry for assisting yet again in affording each child a copy of the reader, free of cost.

She also urged parents, like herself, to pay attention to their children’s performance in school and “do not be afraid to ask the teachers questions about your children.” Waldron mentioned that with this Reader, a parent will be able to follow the schoolwork that their children are doing in their respective classes.


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