Ministry of Education, Guyana

Wednesday, 01 April 2015 08:10

$82.3M nursery school commissioned at No 77 Village

… caters for differently able children

A state-of-the-art nursery school, built to Caricom standards at a cost of $82.3 million and equipped with ramps at the entrances and exits to cater for disabled children, was commissioned on Tuesday at Number 77 Village, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).

The beautiful edifice, which was commissioned by Education Minister Priya Manickchand, was described by her as the most beautiful and modern nursery school in that part of the country. The structure was funded under the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF). The contract for the construction of the Number 77 Nursery School was signed in April 2014, and it was completed approximately seven months later.

Minister Manickchand highlighted the importance of early childhood education, noting that the early childhood years are recognised by psychologists, teachers and policymakers as being very important years in children’s lives. She said the Government has made no bones about prioritising education, noting that the education sector budget has moved from five per cent to 15 per cent of the national budget, and this is spent across the sector. She explained that the Administration has undertaken a programme, to ensure that all students are able to read and understand what they are reading by Grade Four. This project is expected to see results by 2020.

Manickchand pointed out that 85 per cent of nursery school aged children in Guyana were enrolled in schools. This, she noted, is the highest enrolment figure in the entire Commonwealth Caribbean, and was only possible because the Administration has created the required facilities. She also highlighted that the Number 77 Nursery School is the 57th such school in Region Six.


The Education Minister urged parents to give their children a jump start and do so early, so that they could do better than their parents. She said building schools was one thing, but having trained teachers to teach the children was another, as she highlighted that Government has also invested heavily in the training of teachers. She noted that 80 per cent of the nursery school teachers in Berbice were trained.
She related that many were applying to the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), but didn’t qualify in one of the core subjects, but today, the situation was different, as the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration has consciously been providing for teacher training. She cited Region Six as an example, highlighting that it has a ratio of about 12 nursery age children to a teacher.

More teachers

“We have now brought the number down so much …so a teacher can spend time with the children, so when you know a child is really good, you can give them extra work and when the child is slow, you can bring them up and that is what having smaller classrooms do… it didn’t happen simply because we desired it or we wanted it to happen. It happened because we had a vision that we want to see smaller classrooms, with trained teachers, with children who were graduating with skill, and we pursued that vision, we funded that vision that your children are benefiting from.”

Explaining how the Ministry was able to attract more teachers, Minister Manickchand said that the education system was doing well and more children are passing Maths and English and can go on and become teachers. In 1992, just eight per cent of students passed English, and 18 per cent passed Maths, whereas in 2014, 46 per cent passed English and 36 per cent passed Maths, which is similar to what obtains in the Caribbean.

Also to allow a greater intake of students, children are entered into the formal education system in September at three years three months, six months earlier than what previously obtained. This age limit was implemented after an assessment and the children were taught basic things at home before starting school, Minister Manickchand explained. She said such a policy would not be reversed unless the parents called for it to be changed.

Further, with the Administration keen to support groups and parents, it has ensured that programmes are put in place to do so, hence the projects covering fortified snacks, hot meals, uniform assistance, free exercise and text books along with the new cash grant programme launched in 2014.

Meanwhile, the school was welcomed by the staff of the facility, especially the head teacher, and the residents.

BNTF representative Michael Singh said the school was equipped with sick bay, kitchen, administrative department and washroom facilities among other departments, and it has the capacity to house 120 students or 20 per classroom.

The BNTF is a Government of Guyana programme and is responsible for implementing projects and providing infrastructure for capacity building through funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The project undertaken falls into the seventh and eighth BNTF cycle, which deal with education and human development. Under this aspect, US$2.7 million was collectively expended on the construction of the Diamond, Ithaca, Tuschen, and now the Number 77 village nursery schools among others, along with the refurbishing of others. The eighth cycle, which is currently ongoing, will see the injection of US$804 million into the education sector.

Region Six Chairman David Armogan lauded the education sector and the importance that Government has given to nursery education, which is the backbone of more intellectual development. He recognised that the Government was not only pushing nursery but all forms of education, with a special focus on technical and vocational areas.


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