Ministry of Education, Guyana

Thursday, 29 November 2018 09:14

UG to introduce new petroleum engineering degrees with $3.1B subvention –major plans to be introduced to improve delivery of public education

A sum of $3.1 billion has been allocated in the 2019 national budget for the University of Guyana [UG]. This was announced by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, when he presented the budget in the National Assembly on Monday.

Of this amount, Jordan said that $508 million has been earmarked for upgrading of facilities at both campuses, while $2.6 billion is associated with operational expenditure. The university will also be undertaking the drafting of a strategic plan, which will incorporate plans to offer several new degrees, in the area of petroleum engineering.
The Minister spoke of these developments even as he explained to the House that education is not only about the past and present, but rather includes “the bridge that connects us to the future.”
“It will help to mould our children for the intellectual challenges of the rest of the 21st century,” the Finance Minister noted, as he added, “we will intensify the revision of our schools’ curricula, from Nursery to Grade Nine, while addressing teacher training.”
This is particularly important, the Minister said, since the performance of the nation’s children in the public school system must improve substantially, “if we are to truly build a nation of productive and cohesive communities.”
But in order for government to tackle the challenges of managing an economy, which is going to expand exponentially, the education sector has to play a critical role by producing scientists and engineers, health care providers, managers and workers, thinkers and innovators, to transform potential into prosperity.
Moreover, the education sector next year will benefit from the lion’s share of the 2019 national budget to the tune of $52.2 billion, a 15.6 percent increase over the 2018 allocation.
This allocation, Jordan said, will serve to address disparities in the education sector such as bridging the gap between coastal and hinterland education delivery; eliminating the shortage of books in the classroom for effective learning and monitoring sector achievements.
In this regard, in 2019, $5.4 billion has been allocated for the construction, rehabilitation, extension and maintenance of educational facilities across the country.
“This year, we will advance works on secondary schools including those at Westminster, St. Roses, Port Kaituma, Wakapoa and Bladen Hall Multilateral. Further, nursery and primary schools, including those at Chenapau, Mahdia, Diamond/Grove, Bagotville and White Water, will benefit from improved physical conditions and additional classroom spaces for students,” the Minister shared.
“We plan significant and inclusive investments, from nursery to university level; investment in analytical work, curriculum reform, robotics, artificial intelligence, the teaching of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) subjects, and investing in facilities for our youths to be ready for the changing nature of work in an increasingly digital era,” said the Finance Minister.
Added to this, he spoke of plans to expand initiatives such as the distribution of Math and Literacy kits, as well as robotic kits at the primary and secondary levels, which will enhance not only the ICT skills of students, but impact positively on their mathematical and general critical thinking skills.
This is important, the Minister said, both for their economic growth and development and their self-actualisation, that is, the realisation of their human potential and for the blossoming of their creativity. He added, “In the language of the day…this budget underscores that it is critical to invest in people.”
According to the Minister, human capital, the most precious asset, is a central driver of sustainable growth and poverty reduction. Moreover, investments in human capital have become more important as the nature of work has evolved.
Jordan however noted that “Despite some progress, significant gaps in human capital investments are leaving us poorly prepared for what lies ahead. The Government recognises that by improving the skills, health, knowledge, and resilience of its most precious asset [people], citizens can become more productive, flexible, and innovative.”
It was against this very background that, government, during the past year, sought to continue its upgrade and expansion of educational facilities. In this regard, learning resource centres at Mabaruma, Bartica, Kato and Lethem were outfitted with smart classrooms and Waramadong and Kato schools were completed.
Additionally, a comprehensive overhaul of the school curricula was introduced with the training of education professionals, Minister Jordan said.
Considerable progress was made in enhancing the capacity of post-secondary technical vocational education training institutions to deliver competency-based education and training and to meet the standards which allow them to offer the Caribbean Vocational Qualification in a number of skill areas. Also, the Ministry of Education began to expand experiential learning for students at all levels, through the distribution of math and literacy kits.
Smart Classrooms were introduced, the Minister said, to improve learning and teaching by connecting students in hinterland and coastal locations, especially to support the delivery of content for specific lessons, and for teacher training.
According to the Minister, the use of smart classrooms will be expanded throughout the country, with Santa Rosa and Paramakatoi Secondary Schools being among the priority schools for 2019. Providing and upgrading IT labs in primary schools will continue too, targeting schools in Region Six and Georgetown, he added.
The Minister disclosed too that there will be upgrades and provisions for new science laboratories at La Bonne Intention and Plaisance Secondary Schools, as part of the Ministry of Education‘s continued emphasis on STEAM.
With the provision of the national budget, government has plans to introduce programmes to reduce bullying and violence as well as other social problems in schools which, Jordan said, will be expanded to ensure regular school attendance. In this regard, two mobile welfare units will be introduced to expand access to a wider student population. Importantly, the school feeding programme across the country will be expanded, with an additional 9, 545 students expected to benefit. This programme, the Minister said, has been shown to be pivotal to improving school attendance and enhancing learning in the absence of hunger.

Source:https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com

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