The Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) made history when it graduated its first batch of teachers under its Associate Degree in Education (ADE) programme.
Of the 862 teachers who graduated on December 18 in the institution’s 78th Convocation exercise at the National Cultural Centre (NCC), 197 graduated with the ADE and will each receive a laptop. The remaining 665 completed the Trained Teacher’s Certificate Programme. Of the 862 graduates, 103 were males, a release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said.
The ADE programme was introduced under the comprehensive US$5.12M Guyana Improvement Teacher Education Project (GITEP) initiated by the Ministry of Education with funding from the World Bank. The project’s objective is to improve the learning achievement of Guyana’s school children by improving the effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of teacher education at CPCE and at the University of Guyana.
The ADE Programme reduces the time spent acquiring a degree in education. The programme allows teachers to obtain an education degree in five years instead of the usual nine years.
GINA said that Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport and acting Minister of Education Dr. Frank Anthony, Chief Education Officer (CEO) Olato Sam and Opposition Leader David Granger attended the graduation.
Minister Anthony, in delivering the feature address, reminded that government investments have included the teachers since programmes such as the GITEP were implemented and government had formulated an Education Strategic Plan (ESP) 2008-2013 with the primary goal of achieving at least 70 percent of teachers trained by 2013, GINA said.
Anthony underscored the key role that teachers play in moulding children and also urged that as the teachers go forward that they focus on the quality of education they put into the system as this determines what comes out. He said, “we can have all the infrastructure, but if we don’t have the teachers going into the class rooms, ensuring that they are teaching the curriculum and that the management of our schools are not supervising properly to see that we are able to obtain the objective that we set, then we will not be able to improve the quality of our education.” He said that the country will either succeed or fail depending on attainment in the area of education.
A release from the Office of Opposition Leader Granger said he told the graduates that they needed higher stipends and laptop computers to enable them to deliver a ‘first-rate’ education to Guyanese children.
Granger referred to the dramatic advances in science, communications, technology and engineering which have taken place in the world since Robert Cyril Gladstone Potter – after whom the College was named -graduated from the Mico Teachers’ Training College in Jamaica in 1920.
Granger, the release said, pointed out that Guyana needed engineers to build bridges and roads to open the hinterland; geologists to exploit bauxite, diamond, gold, manganese and quarrying resources and biologists, botanists, zoologists and agriculturists and other scientists to expand food production. He challenged the education system to produce the scientists without whom he said the country could not be developed.
He was critical of the large number of primary school children who cannot get into secondary schools, the thousands of children who drop out of primary and secondary schools every year and the school-leavers who cannot find jobs.
Granger criticised the ‘tiny’ stipends paid to trainees and the low pay of teachers which contribute to the intolerable teacher turnover rate. To counter this trend, he said that “we must aim at elevating teaching to become the best-paid profession in the entire public service.”
He also slammed the large number of untrained and unqualified teachers and the long time it takes to earn a full degree. The release said that he committed to continue to aim at making “every single teacher a university graduate in the shortest time possible.” He said that the authorities should continue to work towards giving ‘one laptop per teacher’ from the first day he or she enters College.
Granger challenged the new graduates to contribute to the country in which they were born but contemplate a better future for the country in which they wanted to live.
The CEO, Olato Sam reminded the teachers of the role they must play and the faith that the government is placing in their hands. He was quoted in the GINA release as saying, “Each of you must internalise the fact that you are now teachers, you are transformational agents and should regard yourself as such. If we are to effectively equip our students with skills, knowledge and attitudes that will enable them to attain their aspirations and in the process transform their communities and by extension this nation we all love, it must start with each of you,” GINA said.
“Your mission therefore should go well beyond your education and penetrate the walls and bring sweeping behavioural change… you, must now usher in a new age in education…this journey embarked on must be driven by a strong sense of your place in the larger effort to move this nation forward,” he added.
Khemwattie Algoo, ADE, who attended the CPCE Rose Hall Centre, specialising in secondary education, was named Best Overall Student.