Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine has already initiated a countrywide audit of schools and commission of inquiry (COI) into education which he believes are critical to the implementation of evidence-based national policies to reform the education system. Audit teams have been charged to conduct an “environmental audit of each and every school,” the minister said, in his address at the 6th International Reunion of the Alumni of St Rose’s High School at the weekend, where he outlined his vision and plans for the sector, some of which are already in motion.
“I need to know which schools need infrastructural work. I need to know about everything that is lacking in our school system,” Dr Roopnaraine said, according to a statement from the ministry. Reports have already started to come in and the audit is expected to be concluded by month end.
“A Commission of Inquiry was also established to investigate and hold hearings across the country and provide a report outlining recommendations for the enhancement of education delivery,” the ministry said. The COI comprises teachers, education officials, experts in various fields and citizens drawn from across the country.
While experts have already submitted reports, the minister was disappointed to find that they did not include an action plan to address deficiencies.
Dr Roopnaraine envisions over the next five years mobilizing stakeholders across political parties to collaborate to craft strategies in the nation’s interest. “Education is not something we need to fight over. A solid education system benefits everyone,” he said. The minister has also extended an invitation to the Guyana Teachers Union to participate in the development of policies by appointing a working committee to meet regularly with the ministry to create policies. “I do not want teachers to believe that they are robots in a classroom, who we sent there to execute policy [they] had nothing to do with making,” Dr Roopnaraine said. “We want the parents, the teachers, the union, the students to be fully engaged in the reform of our education system.”
He also acknowledged that the larger population and investment in Georgetown and on the Coast has created a “development gap between what obtains in schools located in Regions 1, 2, 8 and 9 and the Coastland Regions” and pledged to address them. The minister also referenced the challenge to find educators willing to be assigned to work in the hinterland communities.
Music and sport
Since his appointment, Dr Roopnaraine has spoken of his desire to have the education system produce rounded students who have been given opportunities to participate in sport, music and other co-curricular activities. In this regard, the ministry will be hosting two workshops with teachers over the upcoming vacation period focused on reintroducing music and sports into schools.
Further, the minister has also taken exception to the prevalence of students writing a large number of subjects at the CSEC exams and of young children attending extra lessons. “Education is not about quantity; it is first and foremost about quality,” he said.
Dr Roopnaraine also referenced the importance of parents and educators collaborating to better impart reading, literacy and numeracy to children. “We need a system where children will want to be in school and where teachers will want to be in the classroom,” he said.