Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 08 November 2013 16:41

Minister of Education Addressed UNESCO’s 37th General Conference in Paris

Minister of Education Addressed UNESCO’s 37th General Conference in Paris UNESCO

Guyana’s Minister of Education Addressed UNESCO’s 37th General Conference in Paris, France highlighting the continued progress being achieved in the education sector.

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is currently holding its 37th General Conference from November 5-20, 2013 in Paris, France. Guyana participated in this General Conference and was represented by the Minister of Education, Honorable Ms. Priya Manickchand, who addressed the conference on Friday November 8, 2013.

In her address to the General Conference, the Minister applauded UNESCO for its multifaceted approach to contributing to the progressive development of our societies in the areas of education, science and culture. She also highlighted the commitment of the Government of Guyana (GOG) to providing universal access to quality education throughout Guyana. “H.E Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, was pleased to accept an invitation from the United Nations Secretary General in 2012 to be part of the Global Education First Initiative. Moreover, as a Champion Country, Guyana is committed to the promotion of universal access to quality education and to the sharing of experiences and best practices in this endeavor,” the Minister said.

“I am pleased to say that Guyana has continued to work to maintain our achievement of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and gender parity at primary and secondary levels. Guyana is particularly proud of the strides that have been made in improving early childhood care and development through a multi-sectoral approach that has involved the Ministries of Health, Human Services and Social Security, and Education,” the Minister stated. She also mentioned that, “Although preprimary education is not compulsory, more than 80% of the relevant age cohort is in pre-primary (nursery) schools.”

In highlighting that Guyana has already achieved UN Millennium Goal No. 2 which is UPE, the Minster spoke of the Government’s commitment to achieving Universal Secondary Education (USE). “Guyana, like many developing countries has recognized that to be competitive in a globalized economic environment, more of its citizens need to move beyond primary education. The Government has therefore set the attainment of Universal Secondary Education as a major objective in its current Education Strategic Plan and continues to work assiduously on the outstanding goals that still need to be realized.”

“Guyana was one of the first countries to benefit from the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI). This assistance was used to reduce the disparities which exist between the more accessible coastal regions and remote hinterland locations where the majority of the indigenous population resides. As a result, much progress has been made in areas where there were differences in the quality of teachers and the availability of support materials and equipment. The Government of Guyana has continued all of the initiatives under this programme while at the same time continuing its national programme of welfare initiatives, such as free text books and free school uniforms, as well as a national snack programme.”

Minister Manickchand

The Minister thanked UNESCO for its continued support of national education programmes in Guyana. She pointed out that UNESCO has provided much valuable assistance under its Global Micro Science programme providing kits and manuals and the training of teachers. “The impact of this programme” she said, “has been greater in hinterland schools where there are no science laboratory facilities and has resulted, generally, in a 20% increase in student enrolment in science subjects over the last three years.” She was very optimistic about the eventuality of all schools having access to those kits.

Another area in which UNESCO is playing an active role is in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). “Our TVET programme has also been supported by UNESCO through the development of a Documentation and Materials Production Centre at the Secretariat of the National Council for TVET, the establishment of resource centres at four TVET institutions and the training of thirty lecturers/instructors to conduct assessments of students who are pursuing studies in competency-based modularized programmes,” the Minister said.

“UNESCO has also assisted in the preparation of A Science and Technology Master Plan for the Socio-Economic and Environmental Advancement of Guyana, which will assist in improving science education in Guyana. We take this opportunity to thank UNESCO for the assistance provided in these areas,” the Minister indicated.

The Minister however was keen to point out that while Guyana has much to be proud of; there are still many challenges that remain. “In spite of an increasing proportion of trained teachers and all the initiatives already cited, poor learning outcomes in key subject areas such as Mathematics and English are of great concern. “Meeting the Quality Imperative” has now become the overwhelming goal. It is evident from the work of the Learning Metrics Task Force convened by UNESCO through its Institute for Statistics and the Centre for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution that this (learning) is now an issue of international concern. Guyana supports the work of this Task Force and looks forward to the continued sharing of information and collaboration in the implementation of the recommendations.”

As Guyana and UNESCO continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship, it is hoped that greater collaboration will yield enduring sustainable growth in the Education sector. Guyana is on a trajectory to success and progress and it welcomes the partnership of UNESCO.

Of significance, the Government of Guyana and UNESCO will be working together on the application process to designate Guyana’s majestic Kaieteur Falls as a UNESCO Heritage Site. This initiative will surly boost Guyana image on the world stage.

Mr. Marion Herbert, Consular Officer from the Guyana High Commission to London attended UNESCO’s 37th General Conference in Paris with the minister and will stay on for the other events.

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