Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 18 September 2015 10:56

Pupils still ‘underachieving’ – teachers should pay more attention to weaknesses of pupils, says Chief Education Officer

The primary school system has been dogged by failure for many years, and Chief Education Officer (CEO) Olato Sam has attributed this failure to poor accountability and negligence, among other factors on the part of teachers.Though indicators such as the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) reveal that the primary school system is improving, the Chief Education Officer disclosed that the vast majority of pupils are still “underachieving,” mainly because most of the teachers are not competent enough to deliver the content, while some are too often reluctant to adapt to the change in the educational landscape.

This disclosure was made at a “leadership” seminar held as part of Education Month activities. That seminar was attended by head teachers and Regional Education Officers (REOs) at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, on Tuesday.head teachers
“It bothers the mind that after six years of exposure to primary education, our children fail to demonstrate the basic competencies,” Sam pointed out after declaring that he has made a commitment to eradicate those elements that would have contributed to these failures. And he says he is starting with refining teachers.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) will soon embark on widespread capacity- building exercises to improve the system by firstly enabling resources for basic competency, given that most of the teachers have limited ability to deliver content because of inadequate qualifications and exposure, which is the principal element that has contributed to the failing of the system.
“Many of the weaknesses the students possess reflect on the teachers’ failings,” Sam said, while pointing out that this would often lead to restructuring the lines of practice at the secondary level to compensate for deficiencies at the primary level.
In mending this, the Education Officer said the MoE will take it upon itself to ensure that there are sufficient capacity-building exercises to improve the level of competence of teachers in all primary school systems.
There has also been a widespread reluctance displayed by many teachers to adapt to constant changes in the education landscape and the implementation of strategies necessary to ensure that learning takes place, Sam proclaimed.
“We have been preaching for years that there should be more approaches for child development, and that it makes no sense teaching the curriculums when we know fully well pupils are incapable of grappling with the materials being delivered,” said the CEO, while adding that teachers should focus on the strengths and weaknesses of a child, rather than on any external grade ‘A’ expectation.
It is important to note that the ministry is burdened with the responsibility of dragging along with those teachers who consistently fail to meet basic expectations and honour the commitment to educate the children since, unlike private schools, the public schools do not have the latitude to dismiss them.
Sam pointed out that in the new Education Strategic Plan, the MoE has committed to bring, on an annual basis, report cards on the performance of teachers for every public school.olato
Addressing the issue of negligence, the CEO said teachers should pay more attention to the needs and weaknesses of the pupils, so as to implement measures to combat the failings in the system.
Mere days ago, International Literacy Day was celebrated worldwide, and statistics reveal that globally, the number of people unable to read and write continues to fall, though the trends vary considerably across regions and countries.

According to the Institute of Statistics, 757 million adults, two-thirds of whom are women, still lack basic reading and writing skills. The international community, according to UNESCO, has pledged to reduce illiteracy rates by 50%, and Guyana forms part of that international community to end the scourge of illiteracy.
Head teachers and Regional Education Officers of all regions, with the exception of Region 8, during ground-breaking discussions at the seminar, have all vowed to lift the literacy and numeracy rates in the school system upon returning to their respective regions, while Education Minister Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine has reassured of his commitment to the development of the primary school system and the funding of necessary resources so as to reduce the burden on the secondary school systems.


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