Ministry of Education, Guyana

Thursday, 02 December 2010 06:52

Voluntary Mentoring Programme to be extended to more schools

National Parent/Teacher Association (PTA) Coordinator Carol Benn has disclosed that the Voluntary Mentoring Programme will be extended to four more school in January 2011.

The programme which was rolled out earlier this year at South Ruimveldt, Lodge, Tutorial High, Cummings Lodge, Wisburg and the Linden Foundation secondary schools will be introduced to North Ruimveldt Multilateral, North Georgetown, Christ Church and New Campbellville Secondary school.

According to Benn, the move to extend the programme was prompted by the successful implementation of the initiative at five of the six schools it was launched and the many appeals from parents at PTA interactive sessions. The National PTA Coordinator said that there have been some hiccups with the programme at the Linden Foundation Secondary School but efforts are being made to overcome those challenges and to strengthen the programme there so that it attains the same level of vibrancy as the other schools. She noted that training of mentors for the new schools is expected to commence this month end and reported that the presence of 66 mentors at South Ruimveldt, Lodge, Tutorial High, Cummings Lodge and Wisburg secondary schools has contributed to the decrease in unacceptable behaviours from students.

The Ministry of Education in keeping with its thrust to build and promote a healthy self-esteem and image of secondary school students re-launched the National Voluntary Mentoring Programme in March this year. The programme being advanced by Education Minister Shaik Baksh aims to inculcate acceptable behaviours in students, promote tolerance and address some of the challenges facing the education system which include violence and students’ low academic performance. The intervention also aims to strengthen relations between the school, home and community.

Under the programme, a student (mentee) is paired with a former student or other person considered suitable (mentor). The mentor, the mentee and his/her parent/guardian will meet to introduce themselves. The mentor may expose the mentee to activities such as concerts, exhibitions or family outings and interact on a range of issues, particularly those of the mentee’s interest. Mentors are encouraged to form themselves into groups and parents to volunteer their services to establish school clubs to keep students more meaningfully occupied

The Ministry of Education in September has also teamed- up with ChildLink, formerly EveryChild Guyana to introduce the Youth Vision Programme, an initiative geared to empowering some 2000 vulnerable youths with the requisite knowledge and skills to realize their full potential. That one year project which significantly supports the work of the Schools’ Welfare Department to create more violence free schools and promote environments that are conductive to learning is being piloted at the St. Winifride’s, St. Mary’s, Dolphin, Tutorial and the Huston Secondary schools. Some 50 teachers along with 25 youth advocates and 100 student mentors have been tasked to deliver the programme which is also supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNDP).

Minister Baksh has lauded the partnership his ministry enjoys with ChildLink, other local and international partners and more recently UNDP to improve the outcomes of the education sector, a mission the Ministry of Education cannot accomplish alone. He also announced that more Guidance and Counseling officers will be placed in the school system to motivate students, build their self-esteem and confidence to perform better in the classroom and enjoy a more harmonious relationship with their teachers and peers.

Since the placement of Guidance and Counseling officers at certain schools earlier this year, there has been a significant decline of violence and other forms of unacceptable behaviours in the school system.

The objective now, Baksh noted is to maintain and improve the level of discipline established.

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