Guyana is leading the region in nursery education, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand yesterday boasted as she commissioned the new $19M Turkeyen Nursery School.
Manickchand, who delivered the feature address at the simple commissioning ceremony, told the gathering of parents and teachers that there are 1,578 teachers in the nursery education system and 67% are trained teachers. “Right now we have the most trained teachers than we have ever had in the country’s history. In the Caribbean we are leading in nursery education and that is something that we should celebrate,” she said.
The minister also highlighted the ministry’s commitment to raising the standard of education in Guyana. “In this government we take education seriously. We believe strongly that the single most important thing we can do in this country to advance development is to make sure that our children get the best education they can get, so they can become the best that they can be. We don’t only say it, we do things that tangibly give your children the best advantage,” she said, while noting that the opening of the school is not only a significant moment for the students, but the community as a whole.
The minister also told the gathering that the ministry is currently piloting the Roraima Readers programme, which would see children being able to read before they leave nursery school. “Only nine other schools are exposed to this right now and we are looking to introduce it soon at this school,” she revealed.
Manickchand also encouraged parents to play a more active role in their child’s life, while stating that the government can only do so much. “You have to visit your children’s school and find out what is going on. We can come and fix your schools and weed the grass but we cannot come into your homes and wake your children up and take them to school,” she noted.
Also addressing the ceremony, Assistant Chief Education Officer Nursery Ingrid Trotman noted that the country today boasts of a curriculum that caters to the holistic development of children; not only for the cognitive development, but also for physical and moral development.
The construction of the building began on October 8, last year and it was completed in June of this year and opened at the start of the new school year with an enrollment 122 students and 11 teachers.
The keys of the school were yesterday formally handed over by the contractor to the head teacher of the school. Also present at the ceremony were education officials, parents and teachers from the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).
During the ceremony, teacher Shundell Griffith gave a brief history of the school. She recalled that on October 25, 1976, a school was founded in Second Street, Cummings Lodge, under a bottom house. It accommodated 24 students and had staff of two acting teachers. The school was then moved to Third Street and at this time had an enrollment of 80 children and four teachers before eventually being relocated to Graham’s Hall Primary School in December of 1985 when it became increasingly difficult for government to pay rent for private buildings.
Griffith noted that in Turkeyen, there was a nursery school which had an enrollment of 25 children and a staff of two acting teachers and this school was also housed in a privately-owned house. Because the environments were not very conducive to an effective nursery learning to be implemented, officials from the Ministry of Education in collaboration with CPCE personnel and teachers and parents of the two schools held a meeting to discuss the merging of the schools into one entity and this was agreed upon and a building in the CPCE compound was identified. As a result, she said, on May 22, 1989, the two schools merged to form the Turkeyen Nursery School with approximately 100 children and five teachers.