Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 06 April 2018 08:33

Response to an Editorial Column published in recent editions of the Stabroek News.

Dear Mr. Editor,

Hope Secondary School Matter

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has noted with concern a letter in the Kaieteur Newspaper on March 21 ,2018 titled “Parents of Students of Hope Secondary School Need Hope”. In that letter the writer lists several issues affecting the East Coast of Demerara learning institution. The MoE, as a responsible body, with a mandate to serve this nation feels it is our obligation to respond to the contents of that missive.

Firstly, the writer posited the view that the teachers display a lack of dedication and consequently the school is apparently flouting educational Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s). While the writer did not indicate what procedures were not being adhered to, the MoE upon learning about these allegations dispatched two Senior Education Officers to investigate these claims.
Note Mr. Editor the MoE said claims, so all the issues will be addressed in an itemized manner. So, lets return to the alleged lack of dedication by the teachers, the officers found that there were some issues with curriculum delivery by a few teachers. Those teachers were spoken to in the presence of their Heads of Department. Additionally, teachers’ lesson plans are being continuously monitored and the students’ work books were checked and will continue to be checked randomly to ensure the curriculum is being followed. So, it is safe to say that the foregoing issue is not a representation of all teachers because there are many hard-working teachers at the Hope Secondary School that continue to play their part in molding and preparing the nation’s future leaders.
The letter writer also said that that there are numerous fights owing to the students being idle and that these fights would happen during instructional (teaching) time. The MoE’s investigation has found that this is not true. As a matter of fact, the school authority provided evidence to the contrary.
The issue of dog’s fecal matter in classrooms happened more than a year ago and this was due to some classrooms not being locked at the end of the school day. This situation has long been corrected and students are now learning in a healthy child friendly environment. The MoE takes seriously its responsibility to educate this nation and we will always welcome constructive criticisms since these are important if any progressive institution is to continue to effectively serve the people it is intended to.

Drugs in School

Dear Mr. Editor,
In a Stabroek News Editorial dated April 3, 2018 under the headline “Drugs in Schools”, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has noted yet again a certain narrative coming from this newspaper purporting to have all the answers to issues at the MoE.
The issue the editorial ventilated is one regarding drug use at two city schools. It also noted that the said publication has been trying for some time to solicit a response from the Chief Education Officer (CEO) but to no avail. The MoE is not sure when these attempts were made but is not in receipt of any records to this regard.
Mr. Editor you will appreciate that the issue at hand is one that involves children and one must be very careful and guarded with what is articulated in the news media. So, the assertion that the MoE has assumed a “hush-hush” approach to this and other matters is certainly not a fair neither is it an authentic assessment by Stabroek News.
Notwithstanding the ‘upright’ approach the Stabroek News has taken on the issue, here are the facts regarding the use and sale of Ecstasy pills at two city schools.
When the issue of drug use in these schools was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Education the assistance of parents, the welfare department and the school health promotion office and the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU) was sought to assist in the investigation of alleged procurement and consumption of a narcotic drug (ecstasy) by some students of a city school. The objective of this exercise was to apprise the relevant authorities on the outcome of the investigation.

Based on the Information received from the MoE, CANU decided to investigate to ascertain what kind of narcotic drug was allegedly being consumed; who were the students involved, the extent to which they were involved and who might be the person or persons supplying the narcotic drug.

The following were the findings:

Eleven students from one city school were questioned in the presence of
their parents, while one student from another city school was questioned in the
presence of a parent.

The investigation found that the alleged narcotic that was being purchased and consumed by the students was confirmed to be ecstasy.
Based on the investigation and the statements obtained, a twenty-six year old male was arrested and subsequently charged for supplying the students with the narcotic drug. He was placed before the court and was granted bail pending trial.

Following the investigation, the Ministry of Education organized several educational sessions with the teachers, parents and students involved. These sessions were attended by representatives from CANU, Guyana Police Force Narcotic Branch and Guyana Prison Service.

Based on CANU’s interaction with the students, parents and the representatives of the Ministry of Education, the following were recommended:

The students should be given counselling, they should also be monitored and have limited access to mobile phones and social media until they have recovered from this incident.

Parents are now reporting to the school monthly to give an account of the
child’s progress and behavioral changes at home. This can be compared to the child’s behaviour at school which can help to detect if he or she is still in the habit of consuming a narcotic drug.

Students also formed a group in the affected schools that can help to
educate other students about the dangers of drug use.

Finally, notwithstanding the recommendations made, the Ministry of Education administered the necessary disciplinary actions in accordance with its policies regarding drug use in the school system. Immediately following the discovery of the issue, counselling sessions commenced with the students and is ongoing.
The MoE’s Welfare Department continues to work with schools to provide the necessary guidance on this and other issues that affect our young people.

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