On Wednesday, the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Education launched the Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project at NCERD. This event dubbed as a stellar opportunity for the Ministry of Education to showcase its commitment to embracing the directives as indicated by His Excellency the President and the cabinet that ameliorative efforts to close gaps in education service provision and outcomes for educators, students and society at large are necessary for a prosperous Guyana.
The development objectives of this project serve to, in a focused and tangible way, address critical areas of need in the delivery of quality education said Project Coordinator, Quenita Walrond-Lewis who also posited that the objectives of the project address critical areas of need in the delivery of quality education in Guyana.
These objectives directly seek to ameliorate challenges of having a teaching force who desires to be pedagogically sound in the principals and practices of modern, socio-culturally sensitive, and practical education delivery, but are not yet in that place.
Further Ms Waldron-Lewis said these objectives seek to eke out an education experience that challenges Guyana's children, from nursery to university, to actualize their full educative potential in barrier free environments.
"This speaks to the physical learning environment, as is the case at the University of Guyana FHS, or classroom layouts that challenge a child with physical mobility challenges; or the more seemingly cerebral, or psychosocial barriers of gender biases or ethnic exclusion in the existing curricula."
This project will bring about a long-awaited streamlining and alignment of the content and achievement milestones that give brake and pace to the education trajectory of the Guyanese child.
These project development objectives look to, in the first instance, improve teaching practices and student achievement; and in the second case, strengthen the teaching capacity and improve the learning environment of the University of Guyana, more specifically the Faculty of Health Sciences.
The first objective would be achieved by implementing a phased revision of the curriculum, defined not only as the content students are expected to learn in each subject and grade level, but also as the way in which that content is taught, with an emphasis on interactive, student-centered pedagogies, social inclusion and gender informed approaches.
This is in direct response to observed sector gaps, in varying degrees, in these areas. The second objective would support the UG Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) in achieving and maintaining regional accreditation for its programs through improved and sustained quality of teaching by its faculty, as well as the improved and sustained quality of the teaching and learning environment. The GESIP would continue to build on the UG FHS recently revised curricula and improved conditions for teaching faculty.
Against this background the Director of NCERD Ms. Cumberbatch and Dr. Cummings, Dean of the FHS explained the programme in detail about the project components under their perview.
Minister of Education, Hon. Nicolette Henry in her feature address dubbed the project launch "important on several levels, since it marks the beginning of an era of education in the country, coinciding with the vision of HE President David Granger's focus where “Every Child Matters”.
The initiative is also in keeping with the theme for this year’s Education Month, “Promoting Wellness in Communities: through quality education”.
“This theme should resonate with all of us as we move forward boldly with our education agenda, which embraces research, consultations and policy strengthening to put into action one of the most comprehensive changes we will experience in Guyana’s education history," Minister Henry said.
Further the Minster said she believes the education system must be designed or fashioned to suit all Guyanese.
“It is for that reason that the Ministry of Education has re-engineered the system, so that we can produce a new framework that will give every child, no matter where they are from, the chance to be educated to their full potential.”
Minister Henry iterated that the project was designed to close disparities in education among schools and regions, by raising grades in various subject areas.
“This project is in multiple phases beginning at nursery level and going as far as the university and other tertiary levels…the four components of the programme have to do with training our lecturers and teachers…student performance evaluation…projections for new health sciences building, equipment and furniture to gain newly accredited status, and to acquire technology for high-quality education in classrooms in remote areas”.
Ms. Hongyu Yang World Bank Senior Education Specialist echoing the importance of the need for and the importance of Government's efforts to implement the Education Sector improvements spoke of the common beliefs of her agency and Guyana's decision makers including those of Hon. Nicolette Henry, Minister of Education. Prior to the launch a team of World Bank officials met with Minister Henry and other senior Education officials in the Board Room of the Ministry.
"We want to focus on the implementation of this ... it requires team work and we are ready to fully support without separation we are one team working on one objective... Let's go" Ms. Hongyu Yang said.
Also addressing the gathering, Chief Education Officer (CEO) Marcel Hudson said the dynamic nature of education requires periodic review and research of programmes; with a view of the education system being relevant by meeting the social and economic needs of society.
Further the CEO said it’s the Ministry’s intention not to leave any child behind, with a long-term goal of producing global citizens.
He said to realize this agenda requires a multiplicity of informed decisions to be taken and that is what the project is all about.
The CEO said the core of any educational programme is the curriculum, that is, the totality of student experiences that occur in the educational process. Hudson said it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the curriculum is so structured. “We recognized that we have struggled with Mathematics and English, and therefore, focus will be given to more hands-on approach to the teaching of these subjects”.
There will also be greater use of technology in teaching of these subjects.
Teacher’s capacity to deliver is also critical to this process. Their role must never be underestimated the CEO noted. “Therefore, our teachers will go through periods of intense training in content and methodology so that their teaching will be deep, inspirational in a fun environment”.
Resources such as kits, maps, charts, books, diagrams, computers, will be made available to teachers so that their job can be more effective.
Measurement and evaluation of students and programmes are vital to this process hence there will be a review of modes and strategies of assessment. “Our assessment will focus on validity and reliability we will test what was taught”.
Hudson said preparation of table of specification will be a requirement so that assessments will not be done in a vacuum. “Assessments will not be confined to paper and pencil; an array of modes will be considered”.
These will include quizzes, journal writing, portfolios, group work, reports, presentations and the like. He said his Ministry will re-emphasize a focus on continuous assessment. “It makes no sense moving to fresh concepts without completing the current one. These are some of the serious considerations of this project”.