During a “School, Community and Stakeholders’ Engagement” held to commemorate World Literacy Day and National Education Day locally, education ministry officials advised parents that their children’s level of achievement is largely dependent on family involvement.
Commemorating Literacy Day 2017, under the theme “Literacy in a Digital World,” the event was held on Friday at the South Ruimveldt Park Primary School, and brought together the parents of students from several city primary and nursery schools.
“You are the first teachers of your children…what we have are parents who want their children to go to the best schools, but they are not prepared to make sacrifices for all schools to become the best schools,” Nadia Hollingsworth, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Coordinator said in her address to the parents, as she spoke about the roles and responsibilities they hold when it comes to their child’s education.
Hollingsworth stated that according to research, parental involvement is even more a determining factor of a child’s achievement than any other characteristic, including income level.
“….we have a situation of apathy in some schools—Nobody wants their children to go to those schools because we are not willing to work as families and community members to build strong schools so that all children in our communities can benefit,” she said.
She advised that, among other things, parents keep the communication channels open with teachers and monitor their children’s homework and assignments.
In an earlier presentation, made by Sherryann Vandeyar, a Supervisor of Family Planning Services at the Child Care and Protection Agency, the parent-audience was dealt tips on techniques that can be used in the home to get them more involved with their children. These included watching how their children interface online, and leading by example.
“It is important that we understand that we are always, always teaching a lesson,” Vandeyar stated.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson recalled efforts being made by the Ministry of Education to improve child literacy, noting that they are presently distributing literacy resource toolkits to all Grade One classes. He noted that the ministry is working to have all schools internet accessible and equipped with a computer lab and tablets.
Hutson also made reference to plans to develop a National Centre for Educational Resource Development, what he described as a “smart room” to connect teachers with classrooms worldwide. “I believe at record speed, digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, learn and socialize everywhere. They are giving new possibilities to people to improve all areas of their life, including access to information, knowledge management, networking, social services…however, those who lack access to digital technology and the knowledge skills and competencies required to navigate them, can end up being marginalised in an increasingly digitally driven society like Guyana,” Education Minister Nicolette Henry said in her feature address.
“Literacy is an essential skill. And it is only through education that we in Guyana can find our way out of poverty and it can be done through literacy, which is the key to knowledge and higher learning and technology. Our children will take us to places we didn’t even know existed, because they haven’t been created as yet,” Henry stated.
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Information (DPI) said that a ‘Reading Carnival’ was also held in Region Two on Friday, facilitated by the Region’s Educational Department under the theme, “Literacy in a Digital World.”
DPI said that the Carnival saw students from Nursery, Primary and Secondary schools from across the region participating in the activity.
Nine-year-old Sabirah Khan of Huis’t Dieren Primary said that she enjoyed the occasion. The enthusiastic student said, “Reading is very important to us, we must know how to read, and readers are leaders.”
Fourteen-year-old, Ushana Mohan of Abram Zuil Secondary School told DPI she believes that technology could play a great role in assisting students to learn. “For example, homework, instead of going at a library and hunting through books, you can just go on the internet and you can type in whatever you want and you can find whatever you want,” Mohan explained.
Deborah Torres, a parent who attended the Carnival said that she thought the initiative was a great idea.
Martin Samaroo, a teacher of Huis’t Dieren Primary commended the initiative. He said that it is something that he has not witnessed in his six years of teaching in the Region.
Nicole Agard representing National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), called on teachers to take advantage of the use of technology in the classroom, DPI said.
“One way that we know children pay keen attention is through the use of our technology, so we are not just doing it because we want them to feel excited, we are doing it with a target in mind. We want that when the region’s results come out, in every region of Guyana, we must see an improvement in the number of children who are mastering the literacy,” Agard said.
District Development Officer, Deodat Singh also called on teachers to maximize the use of technology in the classrooms.
Singh, according to DPI, also asked private companies and all relevant authorities to make an investment and recognise the importance of boosting the use of technology within schools.