A call for school buildings to have similar designs complete with learning and teaching aids for children with special needs has been highlighted during the ongoing Ministry of Education Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the operation of the public Education System.
The COI recently heard from residents of 30 communities in Barima-Waini –Region One a process which translated into over three days of consultations in the Region. There were also consultations at schools in the Lower Mazaruni – Region Seven and its Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs).
In Region One, Consultations were held in the Sub-Regions of Port Kaituma, Mabaruma, and Moruca over three days from September 14, 2016. The communities represented were Port Kaituma, Barima; Four and Six Miles, Mabaruma, Hosororo, Barabina, Wauna, Yarakita, Chinese Landing, Santa Cruz, Kewbana, Warapoka, Cocoa, Kumaka, Annaquero, Wallaba, Parakesi, Hymakabra, Karaburi and Waramuri.
The Commission has documented a plethora of issues identified by community representatives, most of which were similar across the Sub Districts.
Among the concerns that have been raised is the frequent delays in responding to applications for persons to fill teaching vacancies as it creates a gap in ensuring that children are provided with the best chance of keeping up with the curriculum.
The community of Kwebana has asked the Education Department and the Regional Democratic Council to consider constructing a new school to cater for the growing population in the area.
In addition, persons have also raised the issue of lack of electricity and inadequate technology to facilitate the completion of schemes of work and reports by teachers. Such would also be necessary for research by both teachers and students.
At the St. John the Baptist Primary School in Bartica last Wednesday, the Commission met with representatives from 17 schools from the Lower-Mazaruni including Itaballi, Two Miles, Makouria, Kartabo, Hill View, Bartica, and Three Miles.
Representations were made for the establishment of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Centres in the Region, establishment of child-friendly classrooms, hiring of special education teachers, opportunities for long-distance higher education from the UG, and improved recreational facilities at schools.
In both Regions stakeholders recommended that the literacy programme be revised with the view to making it reflective of the needs of the children in the Regions.
The Commission also noted concerns regarding the teacher-student ratio; examination of the hours dedicated to remedial work; lack of teachers; lack of materials for transitional classes in Primary-top schools; delay in the appointment of teachers; delay in paying teachers; and the need for Welfare Officers and Guidance and Counselling Officers in schools.
The Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Regions One and Seven also had their opportunity to convey to the Commission their recommendations of how education can improve in their communities.
Councilors recommended that schools in the Regions be constructed using concrete instead of wood due to the fact that it is costly to repair the wooden buildings. Councilors also said that the lack of teachers severely affects education in the Regions. They said that this could be because teachers’ salary in the Regions is inadequate to sustain their livelihood, as cost of living in hinterland Regions is far higher than on the Coast.
The COI was established to gather evidential data to support the strengthening of the Education Sector Plan.
To date, the COI has heard from stakeholders from UG, the Cyril Potter College of Education, the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana, University of Southern Caribbean, School of The Nations, the Guyana Teachers, Union, the Guyana Society of Jesus and a number of individuals with an interest in improving education in Guyana.
The Commission is also in receipt of written submissions detailing ways in which the sector can develop.
Next month the COI will consult with stakeholders in: Region Ten from October 6; Region Two during the period October 10 – October 12; Region Nine during the period October 14 to October 17; Regions Five and Six during the period October 20 and October 22 respectively and Region Three during the period October 26 and October 27.