The 2008-2013 Education Strategic Plan is the fourth in a series of education plans during the last two decades. It is an effort to identify the priority policies and strategies Guyana’s education system needs to pursue in order to significantly improve its quality of output and help Guyana to meet the challenges posed by globalisation and rapid technological changes.
This planning effort had the support of the Government of Guyana (GOG) and the donor community in 2002, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) gave support for the activity through an International Consultant provided through the Basic Education Access and Management Support (BEAMS) programme. Assistance was also received from the World Bank for more detailed planning on specific issues. The Planning Unit used its own regular resources from the national budget to complete the necessary activities.
Improved monitoring and evaluation is needed to address two pressing issues: the first is assessment of the academic achievements of the system, while the other is with monitoring the implementation of all aspects of the plan.
Two elements of Monitoring and Evaluation are considered in the plan. The first deals with assessment of the academic achievements of the system while the other deals with monitoring the implementation of all aspects of the plan.
There is a need to continue strategic efforts in developing managerial capacity and making the system more accountable.
A recurrent issue raised by stakeholders, in particular parents, is the need for a better supervision system. The general consensus was that it was ineffective at both the school and regional levels. At the school level it was felt that head teachers and other senior administrators lacked management skills. These were also problems that were highlighted in consultations for the previous plan.
Particular attention needs to be given to developing a more inclusive education system that provides quality and equitable opportunities to indigenous and hinterland children and children with disabilities. Gender equality and equity also need to be integrated as a goal within a truly inclusive system.
The Ministry of Education understands the need for an education system that is flexible and accommodates diversity. This means that the MOE has to create the opportunity for all students to be in regular classes where the education programme caters for their individual needs and where they are accepted and supported.
One of the major problems that the sector faces with respect to teachers is the continuous loss of trained teachers. In general, the average loss is about 12% annually with 40 to 45 percent being trained teachers. Over a three year period 633 trained teachers left the public education sector for various reasons.
The need for more trained teachers has been highlighted under every key issue. There is a very strong perception that more trained teachers will have a very positive impact on the system. CPCE provides initial teacher education and training programmes for Nursery (Early Childhood Education), Primary and Secondary school teachers through a pre-service programme at the main campus and in-service programmes, generally by distance mode, in 14 in-service centres spread across the country.
Effective incorporation of ICT in teaching practices and improvement of ICT equipment needs to be sustained.
Information and Communication Technology was identified as a key issue in a number of areas. First, televisions, radios and, in particular computers, can be used to support the delivery of quality education. Second, there is a need to produce ICT/computer literate graduates and finally, computers can be used as a management tool in all levels of the system. The Government of Guyana has recognized the huge potential of Information and Communication Technology
(ICT) to empower Guyanese to meet developmental challenges and strengthen the economy.
There is a shortage of trained staff in some disciplines and equipment and physical facilities need to be upgraded.
Some of the problems in this sub-sector are similar to those for Science. Lack of trained staff in some disciplines is one of them. Between 2003 and 2007 about 322 technical teachers were trained. It should be noted that these are not all new entrants to the system; many are practicing teachers who are now being trained. The general view is that this is an inadequate number. The majority of tools and equipment are outdated and there are no specialist rooms to carry out the programme in some schools.
In general, it is recognised that the Ministry needs to have a stronger structure at both central and regional levels if it hopes eventually to become truly inclusive. SEN personnel will be a part of a new Unit which will look at School Health, Nutrition, and HIV/AIDS Education. The Ministry is also actively seeking scholarships to train teacher educators, curriculum personnel and measurement and evaluation specialists in this area.
The lack of students opting to study Science and Technology leads to a lack of teachers in the field, which in turn contributes to a poor quality of science education at both secondary and tertiary levels.
One school of thought holds that the differences in scientific and technological infrastructure and the popularisation of science and technology are among the most important causes of differential social and economic levels between developing and developed countries. This view is accepted by educators and stakeholders in Guyana. It is felt that rapid technological changes and changes in the structure of the economy on a local and global level require the Ministry to place considerable emphasis on Science and Technology, including Information Technology, which will be dealt with in more depth further on in the document.
Quality is a major concern as well as increasing access at this level. Priority issues are: poor quality of primary graduates entering secondary schools; poor retention of students especially males; poorer quality of education in Primary Tops and Community High Schools; low performance in Mathematics and English; a high proportion of untrained teachers and a need for more specialist teachers; a high level of student and teacher absenteeism and the need for upgraded physical facilities.