news 20180414 2– final COI report into education system to be eventually made public

Even as public school teachers await the inking of an agreement that will see them becoming eligible for a pay hike, Chief Education Officer [CEO], Mr. Marcel Hutson, is regarding the recently concluded negotiation process [which has paved the way for an increase] as a thorough one.
He revealed that the process was one that not only saw the teachers’ bargaining body, the Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU], making solid recommendations in the interest of its constituents, but recommendations were also made by officials of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry’s recommendations, Hutson said, like those proposed by the GTU, are aimed at improving the education system in a general sense.

Hutson, a member of the Task Force established to negotiate with representatives of the GTU on the salary issue, revealed that helping to guide the process was the report of the Commission of Inquiry [COI] into the education system.
A final report of the findings of the COI, which was led by former Chief Education Officer, Mr. Ed Caesar, was last month presented to the Ministry of Education. Speaking of the report, CEO Hutson said, “We have actually used aspects of the report that were pertinent to the negotiations with the GTU.” He added, “We have sat down for about a month plus to go through what the recommendations are.”
But according to Hutson, the COI final report was not the only document that guided the way forward.
“We also looked at other things that we would have noticed happening in the education sector. We have looked at a multiplicity of issues in terms of the entire education sector, because there are things that we would like to see too that we would have asked to have addressed relating to teachers, students and improved performance of education in this country…so we have done that, and that is to be approved by Cabinet,” Hutson shared.
Meanwhile, the CEO revealed that although the content of the final report has not yet been revealed to the public, he anticipates that at some point the Ministry will do so.
“We have a Public Relations Department in place and once we would have gone through the process [of perusal]…I think at some point in time it will be made public; we did it for the preliminary report, so I don’t see why we wouldn’t do it for the final report too,” Hutson asserted.
Chairman of the COI, Caesar, had in April of last year handed over the preliminary report of the findings to the then-Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine. At that time, Caesar had informed that the final report would have been completed within a few weeks. However, from all indications, unforeseen circumstances resulted in its delayed completion.
Based on Caesar’s earlier disclosure, the final report is expected to entail recommendations on issues such as technical education, special needs education and information technology. Addressing the importance of Technical Vocational Education and Training [TVET], Caesar said, “We really have to do some work to get TVET the way that it is supposed to be. Let it not be regarded as an area for students who are not capable, academically. We must see this as a very important area.”
He also stressed the need for focus on Information Communication Technology [ICT]. This is in light of his belief that this is an important medium through which many things should be done. “If we are going to push our education sector forward, ICT has to play a major, major role and we can’t just speak about ICT in schools,” said Caesar.
He continued, “We have to find a way to involve parents and community members. So one of the things that they have been suggesting, is that in communities, cluster groups must be formed and training must be done with parents to use ICTs in their regular life.”
Commenting on the issue of special needs education, Caesar said, “We have not, to my mind, been allowing our brothers and sisters to develop, in spite of their several deficiencies. The Commission would like to see places like David Rose School for the Handicapped [now the David Rose Special School], the special schools in Linden, New Amsterdam and so on…that all of them be given a new lease of life, but we have got to identify areas where they can be appropriately trained.”
As it relates to special needs education too, Caesar said that based on the findings of the COI, the Guyana Society for the Blind needs to be especially addressed.
“For example, there are students who are going there who are attending the University of Guyana, and we must find a way to provide facilities for them, provide equipment for them, like computers and so on,” he asserted.
He added, “They must not be left out, because if we do not work with our special needs people, it is going to be a cost to the government and the country, because we will have to maintain them when we could have made them employable.”