Ministry of Education, Guyana

Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:46

Baksh urges teachers to ‘reignite flame in education’

Education Minister Shaik Baksh has appealed for a renewed vigour, dedication and commitment from teachers to “reignite the flame in education” to inspire a better performance from their charges in 2011.

Baksh who was at the time addressing headteachers at the University of Guyana (UG) Berbice Campus also announced that greater attention will be placed on poor performing schools this year to ensure headways are being made to reverse their unsatisfactory learning outcomes.

These efforts, he said will be made through the Performance Enhancement Programme (PIP) with heightened emphasis on strengthening the managerial capacity of school managers to better facilitate quality education delivery.

Under the PIP, more attention and resources are being given to a select group of the poorest performing primary and secondary schools in every education district to turn around the undesirable performance.

He pointed out that his officers will continue to work closely with these school managers to provide all necessary support to realise positive changes in students’ learning outcomes.

Baksh who was accompanied by Chief Education Officer Olato Sam and his Technical Advisor Roopnarine Tewari said that while some schools have been making a concerted effort to improve their performance, others are yet to do the same. The latter, he said will be placed under the microscope.

He stressed that headteachers have to take responsibility for every student of their schools and noted that students who pass through the school system unable to read and write represent is a serious indictment not only on the Ministry of Education but the other key players involved as well.

At the primary level, a National Grade Four Literacy Certificate will be introduced this year and it is expected to comprehensively address the shortcomings with literacy and numeracy in primary schools.

This change will place more pressure on teachers to perform as pupils will have to pass this examination to qualify to sit the NGSA. It will also force parents to be more involved in their children’s education.

According to Baksh, the National Grade Four Literacy Certificate will allow the Ministry of Education to gauge the literacy standards of pupils and no longer will poor performing headteachers be allowed to hide as the unsatisfactory performance of their schools will be published in the newspapers.

The NGSA, he said too is being evaluated with the aim to allow pupils to sit only Mathematics and English. Science and Social Studies, he said will not be abandoned but will be integrated into the curriculum in keeping with the standards of sister CARICOM states.

Headteachers, the minister said cannot be complacent and emphasised that though his Ministry has instituted the requisite programmes and policies to address the challenges in the school system, the desired change has not been coming fast enough.

He singled out Region Five in particular, pointing out that even though 67 per cent of the teachers at the primary level there are trained, students have performed unsatisfactory at the last National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA).

Clearly, he said, the Region has the capacity to do better but the teachers there have to put their shoulders to the wheel to make this a reality. Parents too, the minister said have to send their children to school and stated that those who are negligent will be placed before the court. Last year, some 36 parents were placed before the court and Baksh said that if the trend continues, the number might be more this year.

At the secondary level, he said numerous interventions have been made including the institutionalization of remediation programmes in Mathematics and English, the provision of CDs with complete lessons in Mathematics and English at the CSEC level to all schools, the provision textbooks and the upgrading of teachers.

These developments, the minister is hoping will produce an improvement in students outcomes at the CSEC examinations this year, particularly in the areas of Mathematics and English.

Chief Education Officer Olato Sam told the gathering that quality education is a central focus of the Ministry’s current strategic plan and emphasised the need for greater accountability and sound leadership from headteachers to achieve the benchmarks in this area of the plan.

He said that the Ministry of Education stands ready and willing to support any school that needs help in this regard. He also called on headteachers to instill in their teachers the need to modify their schemes of work to suit the learning abilities of their students and stressed that greater efforts will be placed on addressing the problems of literacy and numeracy at the pre-primary and primary level.

Sam noted that if the problem is solved at the primary level, students will perform better at secondary schools.

The occasion was also addressed by Technical Advisor to the Minister Roopnarine Tewari who spoke on policies of the Ministry governing effective education delivery and sound management of the school system.

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