…final report to be completed shortly
“Right now as I sit here I am working on it,” said Mr. Ed Caesar of the final report of the Commission of Inquiry [COI] into public education system. Caesar, the Chairman of the COI, handed over a preliminary report into the
inquiry last month to Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, with a promise that the final report will be completed within two to three weeks.
But according to Caesar yesterday, the Commission, as at yesterday, was still working on the final report. “It will be completed shortly.”
This does not mean that the Education Ministry has not started to implement some of the recommendations that were proposed in the preliminary report of the COI, he said.
According to Caesar, all of the Regional Education Officers [REDOs] were furnished with a copy of the preliminary report and were asked to start working on the areas that concerned them and to do so immediately.
“I am aware that they have started…The REDOs and their team have started to work on issues related to the COI because the Deputy Chief Executive Officer [DCEO] Administration has ensured that each REDO was given a report,” Caesar related.
He disclosed that some of the regions have started to improve its orientation process with Region Six having had one thus far which has seen the reappointment of persons. Similar activities have already occurred in Regions Four and Five. Georgetown and Region Two will shortly take action in this regard. “Many things have started to happen,” said Caesar without sharing too much more.
When asked if he was aware of the progress of an investigation into the payment of ‘ghost teachers’ in the Berbice River area, Caesar would only say that these are matters that the regional officials will have to speak to.
Meanwhile, he disclosed that 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, 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.”
Caesar in his deliberations on special needs education, said that based on the recently completed inquiry, 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,” said Caesar.
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.”
“There will be a lot of things coming out in the final report that will be of interest to the public,” said Caesar, even as he asserted that there have not been all bad things happening in the education system.
He disclosed that all past Ministers of Education have made significant contributions to the development of the public education system. “It must never be said that the sector was at a point where nothing was happening…I am presumptuous enough to say the administration of former Minister [Shaik] Baksh and Sister Priya Manickchand did contribute to the development of education in several ways. We must recognise things like that,” said Caesar.
He nevertheless noted that there have long been some aspects of education that had long required some measure of intervention in order to improve the sector.
He moreover noted that current Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, will go down in history as being “the Minister who wanted to understand the status of education in the sector from the good things that have been happening to the bad things to get a sense of how to move forward so that whatever is done in education is informed by evidential data.”
“That really was the remit of the COI to ascertain what has been happening; to ascertain where we are and wherever possible make recommendations for the improvement in the sector,” Caesar underscored.