Ministry of Education, Guyana

Wednesday, 06 July 2011 12:57

Education Ministry inaugurates student councils in 13 schools

Student CouncilThe Education Ministry on Wednesday inaugurated student councils in 13 schools in keeping with a broader objective to give students a greater voice on matters that affect them.

The councils will also enable students to play a more active role in the decision making processes of their schools. It is expected that the pilot will be extended to all schools.

The occasion was held at the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD) under the theme “Empowering student leaders as partner of change”. It was attended by Guyana Teachers’ Union President Colwin Bynoe, Chief Education Officer Olato Sam, National Parent Teacher Association Coordinator Carol Benn, other top education officials, teachers and scores of students.  

The new structured and better organised system stems from recommendations put forward by stakeholders during the countrywide consultations on the education legislation. That legislation is currently before the Attorney General Chambers.

Education Minster Shaik Baksh addressing the gathering said though student council replaces the prefect system, the innovation is not entirely new to the school system.

He pointed out that the revamping of the old structure in favour of one that is well structured and better organised where students can play a more active role in some of the decision making processes of their school is new.

The trust of the councils, Baksh stressed is not to allow students to intrude on the powers of teachers, but to work along with the latter for the upliftment of the disciplinary and academic standards and the general image of their schools.

The minister said though the councils are governed by clearly established guidelines, there will be issues from time-to-time, and the Education Ministry has established a team to look into and resolve these matters.

Students who are part of the council, he said will be seen as ambassadors of change, and will have a key role to play to engender the chances expected of them. These students, Baksh said have to work along with their teachers to eliminate violence, discourage gangs and be role positive models to students.  

About three months ago, a national student council was launched at the University of Guyana, and according to Baksh, the various student councils can be part of that body which aims to give students a greater voice on issues affecting them.

He said the one of the broader objects of councils is to develop articulate students with sound leadership skills in the school system.

The government, he said has recognised the need to develop the varying abilities of students and as part of a wider plan to arrest school drops-outs at the secondary level, has introduced the Secondary School Competency Certificate Programme.

Preliminary reports have indicated that the programme is making an impact, but apart from this, the education ministry has been placing more focus on drama, sports and physical education to create more rounded students in the school system.

Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam said apart from giving students a greater voice, the councils will increase students’ participation in matters that affect them, create a forum for students to develop civic values, help students to understand the importance of compromise and improve classroom and school management.

More importantly, he said it will pave the way for the establishment of a better system of democracy and good governance in schools.

PTA Coordinator Carol Benn said the move is intended to make students more visible partners in their education and be part of the solution of matters that affect them and the schools.

The council, she said create a safe space and an ideal forum to address matters of bullying, gangs other ills that negatively affect the school system.

The council for each school will consists of a president, a vice president, a secretary and a public relations officer- all of whom-will be elected by the students of their school.

Following the conclusion of the launch, the education ministry convened a workshop to enlighten teachers of the roles and functions of the council, their part of that body, and to impress upon students their expectations as council members.

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