Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 12 May 2017 13:11

Give teachers assistants or change nursery entry age – COI proposes

In addition to providing assistants to teachers, calls are being made for regional committees to be established to monitor the goings-on in nursery level schools. In fact, it is an expressed recommendation of the recently completed Commission of Inquiry [COI] into the education system.news 20170504 2

According to Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ed Caesar, “we are suggesting that in every region a small committee be established with responsibility for examining what is happening at the nursery level and making recommendations.”
Caesar added, “We were presumptuous to request the Education Departments in Regions Three and Five to take action now in this regard.” Such a move is important, Caesar said, since “we can’t play with nursery; we can’t play with those young children. We must start them right and any issues that we would have seen, we must address them urgently.”
Among the concerns relating to nursery level schools is that of the age of entry.
“This has been demonstrated as problematic in many places that we went to. Some of these teachers have said to us that some of these children that are coming to schools now are not potty-trained,” said Caesar. And according to him, the result is, “this teacher [for instance] has 15 young children in her class…a child who is not potty-trained does it, she spends 15 minutes dealing with that child [during which] her class is left unattended.”
Because of this dilemma, Caesar said that teachers have suggested that “if you want to stick with the young age [of admission], give us a teaching assistant who will be responsible for the non-academic issues so to speak.”
The proposal being made Caesar said, “is either go back to the three [years], nine [months] [nursery entry age] or you put another unit [assistant] in the school that is responsible primarily for these developmental activities, so to speak, that occur from time to time with our young children.”
According to Caesar, the nursery level is a stage that has already been preparing children to further their educational development. At this stage, Caesar explained that “they are exposed to reading and some degree of Mathematics and so on”. However, with the challenges associated with early entry, there exists the possibility that the teaching process could be significantly undermined.
A decision to revise the nursery entry age of children was among those of the education sector that had gained controversial attention with many questioning the rationale of having children entering the system earlier.
Previously a child had to be three years old by March 31 in order to enter Nursery School in September of the same year. However, with the revised undertaking by the Ministry, children have ever since been eligible to enter the nursery school system once they would have turned three by June of a given year.
Ahead of introducing the revised age of entry, the Ministry had started holding national consultations in 2013. However then-Minister of Education, under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, Ms. Priya Manickchand, had said “I didn’t think that we were prepared in the system to accommodate these children in September 2013, for many reasons…” At the time, Manickchand said that the Ministry was not able to ascertain how many children would have been eligible for acceptance.
And so registration for nursery children started in January 2015 as opposed to previous years, when it started around April/May, to allow the Ministry to make preparations to accommodate the additional children.
Manickchand had informed that following the introduction of the revised age of entry there weren’t any major complaints. “I haven’t heard of any, but nursery-age children are always, when they get into schools…first they will bawl the school down for maybe the first week, and they bawl a little bit less for the first month and by the end of the first term they settle in.”
Another known issue that children face, she’d acknowledged, was that of limited independence, whereby some of them were unable to use the toilets or are unable to eat by themselves.
Although the Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU] was among the organisations that embraced early registration, it had however called for the downsizing of classes and special training for teachers to enable them to better deal with the younger children in their care.
GTU General Secretary, Ms. Coretta McDonald, underscored, “These teachers will be required to have a whole lot more patience, a lot more tolerance, and it would require teachers to do a lot more than just adhere to their timetables during classes.”
”So when you have to teach and are still expected to do a certain amount of work coupled with changing pampers and feeding, it would take away from the time you are spending teaching the children the skills required at the first-year level,” added McDonald.
But according to the GTU General Secretary, early entry into the education system could lend to children inculcating the right attitude to education from an early stage.
However the COI, based on the feedback gained mainly from teachers during the inquiry, has been able to conclude that in addition to deliberate efforts to monitor the progress of the early intake age move, teachers could be more efficient with the support of an assistant.

Source:http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com

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