The Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) yesterday held a graduation ceremony for 515 newly-qualified teachers.
Dellon Parris, one of the only 50 men who were part of the batch, was named the Best Graduating Student at the 77th graduation exercise, held at the National Cultural Centre.
Parris, who had a pass rate of 82%, was also recognised as the only individual in this year’s graduating class to gain a distinction.
Nalini Persaud, Odescia Cumberbatch, Sarojni Gajadar and Ravina Ramnarine were also singled out from the graduating class for their performances.
At the ceremony, held under the theme “Reaching new frontiers in teacher education,” CPCE Principal Debra Thomas noted that 1,965 students were registered for the academic year of 2010-2011, with 1,763 (87%) of them being female and the remaining 252 (13%) being male.
Thomas stated that this year will stand out as an important one in teacher education and training in Guyana. “It was this year that the college in collaboration with the Ministry of Education took measures to revolutionise the way in which teacher education will be delivered in Guyana,” she said.
She added that in addition to increased access to teacher training and education, the quality of training offered would also be continuously improved.
Thomas noted that among the challenges faced by the institution was the shortage of staff. This, she said, placed great stress on staff in preparing the third year students for graduation, while still having to focus on the first and second year students.
However, despite this challenge, the college has continued on its quest to improve the quality of its teacher training and education programmes and at the same time, increasing the number of teachers in the system, she added.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Shaik Baksh promised the graduates he would make efforts, in terms of policy, to make teaching a more attractive profession.
“The role of teachers is critical to the success of the transformation in many countries and especially in developing countries,” he noted, adding that he hoped a new breed of teachers is coming out of CPCE to make an impact on the transformation of Guyana.
He noted that a teacher reform programme has been launched so that those who have graduated with a trained teacher’s certificate will be able to go on to the University of Guyana and obtain a degree in education in less than four years. “You would have spent three years at the teacher’s training college and we would have to work out a specifically designed programme for you… so you won’t have to spend all that time,” he explained.
He stated that he would like to see within a short number of years, following the trend in the rest of the Caribbean, a higher rate of teachers who are university graduates.
He noted that the country presently has 20% of teachers who have graduated from the university and he hopes to raise the bar to 50%.
Minister Baksh also expressed his pleasure in knowing that the CPCE has almost achieved 70% of trained teachers in Guyana, in keeping with the goal set in the education strategic plan. “It demonstrates the vision of the Ministry of Education, the strong support in the investment by Government of Guyana… we recognise that there is a strong link between quality teaching and quality learning outcome,” he said.