According to Education Minister Priya Manickchand, for Guyana’s children to have enhanced lives, a strong alliance among the government, the ministry, teachers, parents, the students themselves and the community, is required.
She was speaking on Satur-day to hundreds of Region Two teachers at the Anna Regina Secondary School.
A Government Information Agency (GINA) release said that the minister was accompanied by a team of officials comprising Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, Permanent Secretary, Delma Nedd, ACEO – Primary, Marcel Hudson and Coordi-nator, School Board Secre-tariat, Melcita Bovell. Regional Chairman, Parmanand Persaud, and out-going Regional Education Officer, Leslyn Charles and other regional education officials were also present.
“…We have a big contribution to make and the only place we could really make it is through the education system,” Minister Manickchand told the large gathering.
In 2012, Region Two produced the top Caribbean and National student for the CSEC examinations, 16-year old Sarah Hack who attended the Abram Zuil Secondary School on the Essequibo Coast.
GINA said that over the last three years the Region’s CSEC performance has improved consistently and this can be attributed to the fact that on the Essequibo Coast there are 78 percent trained teachers. There are 40 teachers currently attending the University of Guyana. With regards to the riverain teachers, they are seconded to schools on the Essequibo Coast for upgrading prior to entrance in the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).
During the interaction with the teachers, Manickchand introduced the gathering to their new Regional Education Officer – Baramdai Seepersaud. Saturday’s meeting was the last event the out-going REdO Leslyn Charles attended in that capacity as she has been promoted to ACEO – Secondary.
The minister spoke about the policy regarding automatic promotion which will be revised with effect from September. Other issues included the new age for entrance into nursery school, hot-line numbers introduced to provide rapid response to concerns and by extension provide a direct line of communication between the Ministry and the public, graduation fees and payments for test papers. With regards the graduation fees, schools are only entitled to charge a maximum of $3,000.
Manickchand also spoke to the teachers about the distribution of the uniform vouchers, exercise and text books and school feeding programme (juice and biscuits). She acknowledged that while the government was making these investments, it was important that a good relationship be established between the Education Ministry and parents.
She said, “A good parent does not have to have millions in the bank account. …A good parent has to understand that they have to be supportive.”
Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam in his presentation said, “The message is that we are ideally poised to jumpstart this new era, to really move it to another level to the point where this Region can be ranked among the best in the country and I think that one of the good things about speaking in that context is that we begin to appreciate that everything that goes on in our classrooms, homes, planning sessions, meetings …that they are all integrated.”
GINA said that Sam spoke of teachers who do not understand their value and purpose, and stressed that once teachers become au fait they should begin to act differently, to mould Guyana’s children for the future.
He called on all the teachers to use the July/August holiday to reflect on their performance at their respective schools and set a plan of action for the upcoming school year.
Sam emphasised that teachers also need to value the assessments being done in their primary schools since they indicate the gaps and problematic areas for students. He said that teachers would be better able to meet the students’ needs which would in turn result in better secondary students.
“We do not teach the curriculum… we teach children and so before we can begin to teach we need to know what we have in front of us,” he said.
The Regional Chairman in his welcoming remarks recognised the importance of the forum since it provided answers to the questions regarding the education system that he could not answer.
Persaud commended the teachers for their efforts towards the improvement in students’ performance, and he mentioned Abram Zuil Secondary which secured the top spot at the 2012 CSEC and Sparta Primary which gained the top spot in the Region at the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA).
According to GINA, at the forum, the teachers from all across the region were given the opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns regarding the improvement of education delivery in the region.
Some of the concerns raised related to the need for a new school at Cotton Field, the national time table, TVET, professionalism of education officers, a new school for Abram Zuil, transfers for students, age range for entrance into nursery school, and school feeding programme; among others. Some issues were resolved by the Minister and team, while others required follow-up action, the release added.