No major overcrowding at any level in the public education system

Dear Editor,

The Ministry of Education (MOE) wishes to respond to an article carried in Kaieteur News Wednesday March 19, 2014 entitled: ‘Crammed classrooms concern Teachers’ Union,’ in which the General Secre-tary for the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Ms Coretta McDonald, on behalf of the union, expressed her concerns about overcrowding in classrooms throughout the public school system.

While the concerns raised by Ms McDonald seem legitimate and well-founded on the surface, the ministry feels compelled to address, with facts, those apparent concerns raised by the General Secretary.

According to statistical data gathered by the Ministry of Education’s Planning Unit using the non-academic standards of the ministry, there is absolutely no real indication of any form of major overcrowding at any level in the public education system.

The following information was extracted from the tables on class size for the 2012-2013 academic year, and unambiguously outlines the adequate number of children per classroom in their respective levels in the public education system.

1.     Nursery Level – The maximum number of children per class according to the standards is 25.

There are 1,520 classes nationally at this level.  Fourteen (14) of these classes in five regions (not more than 3 in any region) have more than 31+ children.

2.   Primary Level – The maximum number of children per class at this level is 30 for Grades 1 and 2 and 40 in Grades 3 to 6.

There are 3,740 classes nationally at this level.  There are twelve (12) classes with 41 to 50 children and one (1) class with over 50 children.

3.  Secondary level – The maximum number of children per class at this level is 45.  The number is lower for practical classes.

In the secondary departments of primary schools there are 540 classes.  Sixteen (16) of these classes have more than 40 students. Eleven classes (11) have 41-50 students, four (4) classes 51 to 60 students and there is one (1) class with 61 to 70 students.

There are 1,536 classes in General Secondary schools. One hundred and thirty eight (138) of these classes have 41 to 50 students, while twelve (12) have 51 to 60 students and there is one (1) class which falls into the 61 to 70 category.

The ministry has also been very proactive in recent years in checking the enrolment of schools and changing their grades.  In addition, it has also been much more systematic in placing students in nursery and primary schools near to their homes; this has significantly reduced, in fact almost eliminated, the super A schools in Georgetown.  Between 2012 and December 2013, 63 primary schools were downgraded because of a fall in enrolment as against 15 being upgraded.

While there are a few instances in the public education sector where some classrooms have a little more than their required quota of students, this most certainly does not amount to major overcrowding. The MOE remains committed to continuously working towards ensuring that students and teachers both enjoy a comfortable teaching and learner-friendly environment. To this end aggressive teacher training programmes have been conducted and will continue with a view to having more trained teachers available for classrooms. In 2008 the ministry had promised in its strategic plan to train 1,818 additional teachers by 2013. The ministry is pleased that it surpassed its own target and trained instead 3,084 teachers over the period. Guyana now enjoys more than 70% trained teachers, the most trained teachers our country has ever had.

Despite the indisputable successes, the ministry recognizes the need to continue to work every day to lessen the challenges facing the system and the ministry commits to so working.

Yours faithfully,
Suelle Findlay-Williams
Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Education




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