Ministry of Education, Guyana

27 Jan Address by Hon. Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh

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Vision for 2011

Address by Hon. Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh

The Ministry of Education is approaching the year 2011 with great optimism, encouraged by the signs emerging from the education system over the past year.  We have been successful in initiating a number of policies which we strongly feel have the interests of our students at their core and should ultimately lead to greater output from the sector.

We restate our call to all education stakeholders, particularly parents, to increase their involvement and strengthen their commitment to working with us to ensure the success of our nation’s children.

We have now mandated that all schools meet consistently with parents to discuss their children’s progress and collective plan for overall improvements.  We have also worked assiduously to ensure that PTAs are structured and are operating effectively in most, if not all schools across the country.  We hope that in the ensuing year those efforts will be expanded to ensure that our schools become true community schools.  A recent international report published by UNICEF stated that Guyana “…has made significant strides in making schools child-friendly”.  It is important for us to improve on this in 2011 so that all of our schools are welcoming, clean and safe environments for all of our children and staff.  We are committed to seeing the overwhelming majority of our students wanting to attend school regularly and punctually and we need the support of our communities to attain this.

The increase in the number of students writing the CSEC is highly encouraging and speaks to progress in reducing drop-out and providing viable options for all of our students at the secondary level.  Although the pass rates in Mathematics and English have improved, we are certainly not satisfied with these levels and have implemented various strategies aimed at raising these scores; an approach which has gained the full support of all of our secondary head-teachers.  In addition, significant resources continue to be channeled into the secondary alternative pathways through the SCCP programme which has expanded over the past year.  We must ensure that every student leaves school with some basic levels of competency in core areas and all of our efforts are aimed at making this a reality.

Critical in attaining this however, is the foundation set for all of our pupils beginning at the pre-primary level. It is important that enrolment continues to increase so that more of our children can be guaranteed a solid foundation on which to build their educational futures.  With that, a range of initiatives have been introduced to improve performance at the primary level.  The continuous assessment programme, the new literacy methodology which includes the literacy hour and accelerated literacy instruction periods, the Interactive Radio Instruction programme, the Fast-track Literacy programme and the National Grade Six Assessment are all currently being evaluated to ensure that we optimize their collective potential in certifying that our pupils are literate and numerate by the time they complete the primary cycle.  At the same time, we have introduced the Literacy Certification Assessment at the Grade Four which will be conducted in June, 2011 for the first time, and is critical in ensuring all of our students attain the prescribed literacy benchmarks.

We have gone beyond this however, and ensured that our students are given support in are basic areas of need.  From reports received from every Regional Education Department, the introduction of the National School Feeding Programme has had a significant impact on students’ attendance and attention levels.  We have also been highly encouraged with the overwhelming response to the distribution of school uniforms and textbooks across the country.  We now provide support for students writing CSEC with CDs and study materials in English and Mathematics and our newly established Multimedia Centre along with the Educational Television Channel will go a long way in supporting classroom instruction with a range of supplemental resources.

In all of this, our teachers have the most critical role to play and we are committed to supporting their efforts in improving performance standards.  We have assigned Literacy Coordinators to every region and continue to train teachers and provide instructional support in this critical area.  In addition, we have developed the competency framework for teachers in the area of Information Technology which will support the infusion of technology in classroom delivery strategies.  We are on track in our efforts to equip our primary and secondary schools with functional IT laboratories and we have acquired a range of supporting educational software to this end.   The Cyril Potter College of Education is now offering the Associates Degree programmed. This innovation entails a higher level of academic preparation for our teachers as it requires them to be more aligned to the needs of students in this modern era.  As such, our teachers can now be trained and move on to the University of Guyana to complete their Degree in a total of four years.  We have also engaged the University in discussions regarding the structure of their academic programme to limit the time teachers spend away from the classroom to attend classes.  Our teachers must at the same time recommit themselves to provide the required remediation and additional support many of our students so desperately need to be successful.   This is critical if more of our students are to find true value in their educational experiences.

At the end of the day, we all will agree that every student counts and our education system must bear that out. As educators, we must embrace innovation and changes in our strategies and practices which are essential to create an efficient and effective educational system.  I implore you to work collectively to realize those objectives we outlined for our schools, communities and the overall development of this nation as we move into this New Year.  I wish us all a highly productive and successful 2011.

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 13:47
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