The education system is in a state of crisis, President David Granger says, arguing that fully trained career teachers were key to reversing the decline.
Granger was at the time speaking at the Guyana Teachers Union “Teachers Award Ceremony” on Tuesday where he declared that teachers are the foundation on which a good education system is built and a good education system is the foundation on which any nation is built.
Echoing the theme of the event; “Empowering teachers: Building Sustainable Societies”, Granger noted that improvements in teaching are essential to improving education in this country because of the critical roles played by teachers and the heavy responsibilities they bear.
He explained that though between 2011 and 2013 there was an average of 8,700 teachers in the school system there continues to be a shortage of teachers particularly in the science subjects and in the hinterland communities.
This shortage he noted is because the system loses on average 286 teachers per year.
“Every year about 70 teachers retire from the system and another 65 resign. According to the Teaching Service Commission between 2009 and 2015 teachers were being dismissed at a rate of about a 150 per year. This means that on average we are losing teachers at a rate of 286 per year for various causes. These are the challenges for both the union and the ministry of education,” President Granger said.
The President went on the suggest four factors which may be considered in the quest to remedy the situation.
His first suggestion is that an examination of teacher recruitment practices be conducted.
“We need to recruit career teachers who will remain in the system and who want to be trained,” Granger declared. He explained that while an average of 518 teachers graduate CPCE every year the system loses more than half every year so many of those who graduate do not have a full career. He also bemoaned the large number of untrained teachers in the system.
“Between that period 2012-2015 about 17,000 untrained teachers were recruited, an annual average of about 433 untrained teachers joining the system per year,” he said, arguing that this means that “a significant number of untrained teachers exist in the system even as a large number of trained teacher are leaving.”
He stressed that the education system requires trained, career teachers.
This training is the second factor which the president believes can improve Guyana’s education system.
“There is no place for untrained teachers in the education system. Every teacher entering the system must be trained and those in the system who are not trained need to be trained and therefore empowered to perform their duties,” he said.
The president also promised improvements in the conditions under which teachers work so as to motivate, empower and enable them to discharge their functions of moulding the nation.
Urging the GTU to make submissions to the Commission of Inquiry on the Public Service so that an understanding can be gained of the problems faced by teachers, the president asked that the union, ministry and other government bodies work together to improve the conditions under which teachers function.
The other two factors addressed were the retention of teachers and the continuous modernising of the delivery of education.
To this end he advised teachers to have their union make representation to the Public Service inquiry for an increase in the retirement age even as the profession removes itself from the age of the blackboard.
“Updating is not an option,” he said “but an obligation. Talk and chalk is part of the past. There is no going back we need to go forward we need a generation of resilient teachers who could accept and implement the new technology.”
42 teachers from around the country were rewarded by the union for their contribution to education throughout their mostly long years of service as well as their contributions to the work of union. The event was held at the Georgetown Club on Camp Street.